Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence


Bodily/Kinesthetic intelligence is one of Gardner's original seven intelligences.

According to Gardner, those who exhibit this type of intelligence have great control over their bodies and are adept at controlling and realizing the body's position in space, the practical and expressive use of its many parts, and its relation to foreign objects (ie. a ball or pencil or control board). They are able to internalize a strong sense of a desired goal from a physical action (ie. aiming an arrow to hit a bull's eye or crying to elicit an emotional response from another person) (Ryan,, 2008, p. 54). A person who is kinesthetically intelligent can also train his or her body responses for specific reasons and achieve and utilize muscle memory. In an artistic sense, bodily/kinesthetic intelligence allows a performing artist to use his or her body to express ideas, concepts, or universal human truths instinctively. Additionally, people with this type of intelligence have a sense of coordination and are good judges of timing, force, and the extent of their movements.

Some believe that this particular type of intelligence is less valued in our society than it is in others. Calling this set of skills a type of mental intelligence is startling to some who would paint them more as athletic talents or abilities. Gardner, and other proponents disagree. Enjoy the quotation below, which connects the skill or writing to Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence:

"What light does it cast on writing if you assume--with Gardner--that people function with a bodily intelligence of equal status to the linguistic and logical intelligences? Consider how many kinesthetic expressions apply to the experience of reading. We speak, for example, of being "touched," "taken," "gripped," "led," "held." We "grapple" with difficult subjects, and have "gut wrenching" experiences. Our stomachs turn. Our hearts leap. Our breathing quickens. We may tremble, sigh, and be "moved." These responses are rooted in kinesthetic experience. Jacobson presented evidence that all emotional responses are rooted in finely-tuned kinesthetic awareness. We know our emotions through the intelligence of the body; any writer who wants to affect the way readers feel must find a way to touch the kinesthetic intelligence with words" (Grow, 1990).

Implications for Learning and Teaching gives us this list of indicators that a student may be a Kinesthetic Learner:

Kinesthetic Learners Usually:
  • Move around a lot
  • Like to touch people they’re talking to
  • Tap their pencil or foot while doing schoolwork
  • Enjoy physical activities
  • Take frequent breaks when studying
  • Do not spend a lot of time reading
  • Have difficulty spelling correctly
  • Like to solve problems by physically working through them
  • Like to try new things
  • Are coordinated and agile
  • Are considered hyperactive
  • Express their feelings physically (i.e., hugging, hitting)
  • Move their hands when they talk
  • Dress for comfort, instead of style
  • Lay on the floor or bed when studying
  • Enjoy touching things
  • Have difficulty sitting still for extended periods of time
  • Excel in athletics and the performing arts

Here are some suggestions for techniques you can use as an educator to teach kinesthetic/body learners more effectively:
~ Pair muscular movement with desired learning goals (refer to videos below of an example of this).
~ Incorporate activities that mimic sports or involve dance, acting, or creating objects into your instruction (Ryan, 55).
~ Try to pair activities geared toward bodily/kinesthetic learning with those geared to musical or interpersonal learners. (Musical intelligence and bodily intelligence gel seamlessly in dance and anything that requires a beat, tempo, or sound cue. Emotional empathy is a huge part of interpersonal intelligence, and this is often the goal of physical performances like dance or acting.)
~ Provide hands on learning tools (clay, sandpaper, globes, maps, computers, etc)
~ Provide hands on learning experiences (active field trips, role playing, games, mimicry, martial arts, etc)

"Encourage your child to study in several short blocks of time, instead of one extended time period. Teach concepts with concrete examples (for example, teach greater than and less than with a crocodile puppet, rather than just numbers on a chalkboard). Have your child memorize information while moving. They can walk, jump rope, or skip as they're learning the material-- they don't need to sit at a desk," (

Using Technology

~Provide sounds to motivate movement and learning, such as music, cues, auditory prompts, etc. There are a wealth of sound resources on the internet ( is one).
~Provide opportunities for students to use video cameras to make videos of themselves (that may incorporate any varying degree of movement) to demonstrate their understanding of concepts or ideas. A great grade target would be any of the secondary grades, but with supervision this could work wonderfully at the elementary level as well.
~ For the elementary grades, check out this online coloring book, which will help develop fine motor skills of young learners and teach them how to manipulate a computer mouse or cursor. (also has games and crafts)

Please view these related videos, which provide a great example of pairing a topic seemingly devoid of physicality with a muscular movement designed to help kinesthetic learners:

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Grow, Gerald. (1990). Writing and multiple intelligences. Presentation given at the annual meeting of the Association for Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication. ERIC
Document Reproduction Service No. ED 406 643. Available on-line at: <>.

Meetu. (Jan. 22, 2009). Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence. Retrieved from:

Multiple Intelligences: A Theory for Everyone. 2010. Retrieved from:

Ryan, K., Cooper, J.M., Tauer, S. 2008. Teaching for Student Learning: Becoming a Master Teacher. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Smith, Mark K. (2008) Howard Gardner, Multiple Intelligences and Education. Retrieved from:

Wright, S. (2011). Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence. Retrieved from:


Dancer: from; poses: advanced. (Natarajasana). Retrieved from: