What is Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence?

Angela Burke, Yolanda Williams
  • Author
    Angela Burke

    Angela has fifteen years of teaching experience, primarily in Special Education and Gifted Education at the K-12 level. She has a B.A. in Elementary Education and Special Education, K-12. In addition, she has a M.A.Ed. in Special Education with an emphasis in Gifted, K-12. Angela has had several research and review articles published in education journals.

  • Instructor
    Yolanda Williams

    Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Learn about kinesthetic intelligence, one type of the theory of multiple intelligences. Find bodily-kinesthetic intelligence intelligence examples and tips for learning. Updated: 09/26/2021

Table of Contents


Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence

All people have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to learning. One type of strength is kinesthetic, which utilizes the movement of the body. In an education setting, or in the world at large, people who learn using their body are exhibiting kinesthetic intelligence. One may wonder, what is bodily-kinesthetic intelligence? A good definition is the use of movement or sensation to garner information from the surrounding environment, solve problems, and create new things.

It is critical for educators to identify and understand kinesthetic learners in order to provide instruction best suited to their strengths. Key traits of kinesthetic intelligence include the following:

  • Strong gross and fine motor skills
  • Strong bodily coordination
  • Strong use of body language

Dancers have strong bodily kinesthetic intelligence.


Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Psychologist Howard Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences in which he determined there are eight specific types. His theory proposes that the traditional view of intelligence, determined by IQ tests, is too narrow. Gardner instead recommended that a more comprehensive and multi-faceted view of intelligence be used in the educational setting. While critics point out a lack of empirical evidence regarding Gardner's multiple intelligence theory, the concept is useful for classroom teachers and individuals who want to understand how they learn best. Just as a teacher wouldn't expect a left-handed student to use right-handed scissors, when possible, it is best practice for educators to teach students according to their strengths.

The eight types of intelligences according to Gardner are as follows:

  • Verbal-linguistic intelligence pertains to strong verbal skills and processing of sounds and rhymes. This student will most likely learn to read and write with ease and demonstrate excellent verbal skills through debate, explanations, and story-telling. Career paths include teaching, law, and journalism.
  • Logical-math intelligence pertains to strong skills in performing complex math operations, analyzing data, determining patterns and thinking both conceptually and abstractly. Career paths include engineering, accounting, and computer programming.
  • Visual-spatial intelligence pertains to visualizing with accuracy, demonstrating excellent spatial judgement, seeing patterns and manipulating them. Career paths include architecture, art, and design.
  • Musical intelligence pertains to strong musical and rhythmic abilities in the form of singing, playing an instrument, composition, and hearing musical patterns and tones with ease. Career paths include composing, teaching, and performing music.
  • Interpersonal intelligence pertains to strengths in reading people's moods, emotions, and intentions, while responding appropriately. Career paths include counseling, politics, and sales.
  • Intrapersonal intelligence pertains to strong self-awareness and self-reflection abilities. Careers include writing, philosophy, and theology.
  • Naturalist intelligence pertains to strong abilities in identifying and classifying different species. This individual will enjoy spending time outdoors. Career paths include farming, gardening, biology, and conservation.
  • Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence pertains to strong physical abilities and coordination. Career options include fire-fighter, builder, dancer, and professional athlete.

Note that each of the intelligences is independent from the others and that a student may be strong in one area, but not another. For example, a student may be a strong kinesthetic learner, but this does not mean they will be equally strong in visual-spatial intelligence. All learners are unique and, therefore, may require individualized learning opportunities.

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Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence Examples

Here are some examples of what bodily-kinesthetic intelligence looks like in action:

  • A preference for hands-on activities: building, constructing, sculpting, drawing, note-taking, wood-working, gardening, knitting or other crafts.
  • Integration of movement and whole-body learning: role-playing, acting, dancing, playing, sports, and exercise.
  • Tactile learning: touching and feeling textures or surfaces, handling objects.
  • Self-expression using the body: hand-gestures, physical touch.

Kinesthetic Learners

Because most education settings teach to students who are strong in verbal-linguistic and math-logical intelligence, kinesthetic learners must develop strategies that use their strengths in order to retrieve and retain information. Those who are given tactile, hands-on teaching strategies will be most successful, as connecting the body to the mind will enhance memory. Similarly, engaging in actual experiences will provide a rich environment for learning.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are examples of kinesthetic learning?

Examples of kinesthetic learning include hands-on experiences such as building and constructing models, as well as whole-body learning through experiences in the real world.

What are examples of bodily kinesthetic activities?

Bodily kinesthetic activities include participation in sports, performing arts (e.g., dance and drama), crafts and building projects, as well as gardening.

What are bodily kinesthetic skills?

Bodily kinesthetic skills include dexterity and strong gross and fine motor skills. Typically, athletic skills and muscle memory abilities are beyond average.

What is meant by kinesthetic learning?

Kinesthetic learning requires the integration of body and mind in order to maximize the learner's strengths. Activities involving movement and sensations support this type of learning.

What famous people have bodily kinesthetic intelligence?

Famous people that have bodily kinesthetic intelligence include actors like Tom Cruise and sports stars such as quarterback Tom Brady and gymnast Simone Biles.

What does kinesthetic mean?

The word kinesthetic refers to the movement of the physical body. A kinesthetic learner is one who learns by moving their body in their environment.

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