Move it to learn it

The advancement of technology with modern times plays an important role in our lives directly and indirectly – it tries to reduce the friction from our lives. It mean lures towards a life where we don’t use our body to its full potential . Let’s create some fun by movements.

One upon a time, not so very long ago, I, the Body and Kinesthetic intelligence, was much sought after. Warriors depended on me; craftsmen used me to create both articles of utility and beauty; dancers and dramatists added depth to culture; sport was the primary pastime, and many professions used hands dexterously to achieve and to perform. A lot of education was about developing my presence in each child. I was valued because people believed in the magic of hands and body. I was popular because people could create and perform with me. I was important because like other intelligence, my role was natural for a balanced human development.

But I am now losing importance. Hands do not create these days, machines do. People, especially educators and parents, are forgetting that for children ‘making’ things with their hands is fundamental to their mind’s development, that movement, hand and body skills, and body and mind coordination are intrinsic to learning, that it is time to ‘welcome’ me back in the class.

Here is how it can be done:

Use hand intelligence to make / do
We realize that when children are ‘making’, what comes out of that making is not as important as the act of making. The emphasis on the perfection of the outcome in the classroom has killed the very essence of doing and learning. So forget the outcome and get children to make:
• a large (scarecrow size) puppet for a story that you are reading
• clay models of the alphabet and words
• a vertically balancing stack out of blocks to count the number of children present
• clothes out of rags for festival dolls
• drums out of junk for song time
• garlands, with counting, to welcome parents
• paper crushed animals
• designs out of strings
• using a multitude of materials, since all require different hand skills
• things together as a team
• things with one hand, without using the thumb, with eyes closed, while standing on one leg
• something – in almost everything children are learning

Use me to think
The most natural way to think mathematically is by using fingers. The same goes for reading. Can we extend this idea?
• Do your normal activities using only one sense organ. So we learn by only touching, or listening, or seeing, etc.
• In teams of two or three, form a letter shape (using the whole body).
• Each child wears simple finger puppets to think about what is happening in the story as the teacher reads the story.
• Give physical challenges to solve as a way to develop critical thinking skills – like jump across without. (What? Is something missing here?)
• Use manipulative like waste seeds, shells, bottle caps to play around and do mathematical modeling.
• Explore music sense in everything we do – using our hands or feet to tap out the rhythms.
• To learn about things, let children explore them by touch, by opening gadgets, by playing with them, even breaking them.

Use me to communicate / express
In a day, while you sometimes use words to express, you are using me all the time to communicate – by the way you move, the way you sit, your facial expressions, and so on.
• Have a silent day – no speaking – all communication via body.
• Extend this idea by having a ‘face’ day – communicate only through expressions; a ‘hands’ day – communicate only using hands and maybe even a leg day.
• Extend this idea further by giving children physical things to communicate, like a (newspaper rolled) stick, a kerchief or ribbon tied to your hand, a sign card (like what the traffic policeman or airplane use).
• Add elements of drama in all the things that you do in the class. Use me to add underlying themes– like today – while we work – all to act loud, or act shy, or act emotional, or act laughing or act crying, etc.
• You can also get children to use me by giving them specific roles – while doing your work today, all children can try to act like policemen, like kings and queens, like old men / women.
• Get children to learn some parts of actual sign language. For an inspiring version of how deaf children use me to render ‘Jana Gana Mana’ in sign language (show to children) in YouTube, search for “silent national anthem”.

Use me to relate to each other
When children take part in kinesthetic activities – together – they are able to relate to each other in a more beautiful, fundamental, and natural way. Observe any gang of young friends and how effortlessly they huddle together, hold hands, hug, touch, etc.
• Touch is my most important relating aspect – get children to develop a healthy sense of touch – do activities which require holding hands, entangling limbs, shoulders together, physically holding each other, etc.
• Do tribal dances. Tribal dance forms are based purely on group bonding – requires people to entwine with each other, hold each other, and move together.
• Do other group dances which require children to synchronize their movements together – dance as a troupe.
• Play games that require children to move together or do tasks physically interdependently (like one carrying another on the back to collect items, or run with a sheet of newspaper between their backs etc.
• Get children to just move in a given space with music playing – preferably with eyes closed. This is not really dancing, rather letting the body to just respond to the music, naturally.
• Pairs of children work with natural material together – like make, play or shape clay, sand, water, paint, etc together.

Use me to have fun
My primal form is joy and celebration. How you jump and do impromptu jigs or simply feel the glow in your bodies when any joy hits you. How the very sound of drums makes your body respond with energy. So if joy is expressed so fervently through body – conversely – you can get the body to explode to experience joy.
• Do jigs anytime of the day, many times in your day. Get children to create their own fun jigs. Make these jigs rituals in your school routines. some examples of jigs we do in our center.
• Play lots of fun kinesthetic games as ice breakers, energizers, before, during or after your class.
• Give children kinesthetic freedom. From your understanding of learning styles you would know that some children have a simple ‘need to move’! They will move things (play with pen), themselves (shake legs, hands, stand up and move around, take breaks, etc. If possible, organize your class in such a way that a child can move around naturally. Alternatively, allow children such kinesthetic breaks after every 10-15 minutes.
• A fun way to get children to become aware of me (their body and its amazing abilities) is to put fun constraints in whatever they are doing. Constraints like speak with your tongue out, crawl instead of walk, sit on feet and work, use non-regular hand and work, and so on.

Finally and very importantly, I am not just for the children. Most teachers, as adults, I have noticed use very little of my intelligence. Sad. Hence, it is imperative that schools in their teacher training, in their staffroom activities, in their classroom rituals, include loads of body-kinesthetic action for the teachers. After all they should lead actively from the front!

When you are learning and you know it, move yourself
When you are learning and you don’t know it, move yourself
for the brain and the body and the moods and the thoughts
and the learning and the teaching – all require that you move yourself.