Alice Savage

Kinesthetic Grammar Activities: Getting Grammar on the Move!

UPDATE: Based on the popularity of this post, we got inspired, and are very excited to announce the upcoming publication of our new book by Alphabet Press, 60 Kinesthetic Grammar Activities! Please click here to find out more and order a copy. There are activities for everything from verb tenses, modals, conditionals, gerunds and infinitives, articles, nouns, adjectives, clauses, phrases, and everything in between! Check it out! 

We often talk about “grammar on the move.”  The reality is that grammar instruction itself can also be moving.   When students are asked to get out of their seats or point to something or walk around the room, they are engaged.  There is laughter and fun.  It feels like a game.   Sometimes chaos ensues, which can be great, and learning always takes place.

Kinesthetic Grammar is the idea that language can be practiced and better remembered when tied to physical movement.   A movement of the hand might indicate a change in tense.  A stomping of the foot could imply a “run-on.”  The physical activity serves as a cognitive hook, something to help students remember what it is they’re learning.  Sometimes the movement even mimics the meaning of the grammar.

Below are a few examples of ways to use kinesthetic techniques to teach grammar, all of which can be modified to fit your own needs. Think about how they could be for your own instruction, and let your imagination run wild!

Walk Forward, Walk Back (past perfect)

This activity mimics the grammar because students are “stepping back in time,” just like the past perfect.


  1. Bring or prepare a story with examples of the simple past (worked) and the past perfect (had worked). Make sure the excerpt includes enough instances to the past perfect.
  2. Tell students to line up at the back of the classroom.
  3. Students step forward one step when they hear a verb in the simple past. Students take a step back when they hear the past perfect.

Hands up, Feet Down done in pairs

Hands up, Feet Down  (run-ons and fragments)

  1. Prepare a paragraph that contains fragments, run-ons, and complete sentences. Choose a paragraph that is similar in theme to one students are about to edit. Six to eight sentences is a good length.
  2. Do not show students the paragraph yet, but get it ready just before class begins. Using Microsoft Word, open the document, but then delete each sentence (or fragment or run-on) one-by-one in Word until they all disappear. Start from the last sentence and work backwards.
  3. Explain to students that you will be reading a paragraph sentence-by-sentence and pausing at each period.
  4. Tell students that at each pause, they will:
    a) Raise their right hand high if they think it is a complete sentence.
    b) Raise their left hand, but only slightly, if they think it is a fragment.
    c) Stomp their foot if they think it is a run-on.
  5. Have students close their eyes so that they can focus their ears on the sound and flow of each sentence.
  6. Read each sentence, giving adequate pause for each period and noting the students’ reactions. Do not show the sentences yet. Students are being trained in listening.
  7. Once the reading is done, project Word on the screen. Using “Control +Z” or the Redo button, reveal one sentence at a time, starting with the first. Each sentence should reappear separately so that the discussion stays focused.
  8. When the sentence appears, read it out loud again.
  9. Use the students’ feedback to review the elements of a complete sentence. Go over ways to edit fragments and run-ons, eliciting ideas from students.

Picture Perfect Race (any grammar point)

This activity requires students to have access to English outside of the classroom. 


  1. Prepare a list of 6-8 grammatical points that your students have learned (e.g. the simple present, plural nouns, “may/might.”List the points on a piece of paper with checkboxes next to them.
  2. Put students in teams of three. Tell them to get out their smartphones.
  3. Tell students they are in a race. Then tell them to go around campus to find examples of each grammar point, such as on a flyer or poster, and take a picture of it.
  4. When teams have all points checked off, have them return to you.
  5. Check that the team’s pictures are all correct examples of the points. The first team to complete the task wins.

Point it Out (any grammar point)

This activity can be easily modified to review two, three or four contrasting grammar points.


  1. Choose two grammar points that contrast with each other.For example, you may choose count vs. non-count nouns.
  2. Write the two grammar terms on paper and place them on opposite ends of the room.
  3. Read sentences with examples of each point.Tell students to point to the paper that the sentence illustrates.

The Wave (any grammar point)

This activity is very similar to Point it Out, but students are on their feet.  It is good for a classroom with a lot of space.


Screenshot 2017-11-05 12.43.04

Grammar on the move!

  1. Choose two grammar points that contrast with each other.For example, you may choose count vs. non-count nouns.
  2. Write the two grammar terms on paper and place them on opposite ends of the room.
  3. Read sentences with examples of each point.Tell students to walk to the wall with the grammar point that the sentence illustrates.

If you have any of your own kinesthetic techniques to share, please do.  We would love to hear them!  Let’s make grammar fun again!

And if you like this, check out a related post on embodied learning. There are several more classroom ready activities there!

8 replies »

  1. I like “RunningDictations”.It is a bit “over exciting” for some students but take plenty of energy. Post a paper with a brief text on one end of the classroom, or two if you can make two groups.
    Group students, one student sits at a table with pen and paper. The rest of the team take one run at a time from the table at the other end of the classroom to the paper on the wall. Read trying to memorize and run back to the mate at the table. Then, speaks the sentence or fragment he or she can remember. The first team to complete the fragment with less errors/mistakes, wins.


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