Types of Learning

See Also: Ways to Demonstrate What You Have Learned

*Note: this is not a complete list but a selection of examples for you to consider

Also, another thing to note is that information is accessed in certain ways (some of which are below) but learners also need time to process what they have accessed or experienced and some of the items listed below are ways to process the learning as well.  Be sure, then, to allow downtime for this processing (for example, after watching a puppet show a child may play with her/his stuffed animal in a similar manner as she/he processes learning about making a story.)

Direct or Formal learning:
Learn specific academic information or skills, improve communication skills, problem-solving, and group social skills

attend school

attend a lecture

use a textbook

test prep books or AP study guides

use real books: read good fiction & biography to illuminate history, science, math

take local parks and recreation classes, community college classes (as a child, teen or adult) or adult education classes

take correspondence, online, or college courses

watch or listen to Teaching Company courses or audiobooks

find a tutor

read journals, magazines, online articles (Scientific American, Smithsonian, Dig, Ladybug, Stone Soup, Mother Jones, Highlights)

websites – all kinds: drill, question of the day, online or distance learning, streaming, educational

attend conferences: story telling, writing, historical, science

make observations, research (library, online, community, letter-writing) and do experiments; do science kits

small study groups

science and math camps or competitions, spelling bees, library summer reading activities

read or write: fiction, non-fiction, biographies, screenplays, ‘how-to’ or instruction manuals, technical writing, websites

watch movies/DVD’s on history, science, culture

watch or create a powerpoint or other graphic presentation

play educational computer games or programs

learn academic skills, self-expression, creativity, life skills, problem-solving, social skills

explore and observe or play: with arts, crafts, building materials, nature, animals, textures, movement, voice, sensation, sound, light, liquids and solids, metals, mixtures, electronics, objects, and quantities and  qualities

go to museums, observatories, nature centers, zoos, aquariums, amusement parks (for physics)

find an internship, job, mentor, or volunteer position in the area; be a docent at a museum, park, historical site, or usher for plays; volunteer to teach literacy, work on a hotline, bring meals to shut-ins, etc.

go to plays, concerts, poetry recitations, readings, faires (book, science, cultural, etc.)

join book clubs or discussion groups

watch foreign movies for foreign language learning

write letters, email, IMs, newspaper articles, keep a journal, create a blog & write in it from time to time

go to restaurants and farmers markets

travel: in town, in state, across the country, worldwide

join outdoor exploring, nature groups, survival skills, or orienteering groups

join youth, service, church, sports clubs, hobby groups, or scouting groups

set up camp at local, state or national parks

do observation of your local animals, plants, and ecosystem, (rivers, streams, bays, mountains, fields, forests, etc.)

compete in math, science, music, art, problem-solving events or other events or competitions

self improvement or personal growth activities: peer counseling, dream work, art therapy, communication skills classes, meditation, spiritual study, support groups, teach a class

Family Learning
learn academic, art & creativity, lifeskills, organization skills, group problem-solving and social skills

read the paper together and discuss

ask questions, daily dinner discussions,

play: board or card games, sports, outdoor cames, guessing games, charades or skits, I-Spy, silly games, do puzzles or crosswords, wrestle, throw pillows

games in the car – I-SPY, alphabet license search, car bingo, etc.

family job, allowance, family finance planning

do household projects: garden, remodel, organizing files, upkeep, cleaning, repairing

family projects: scrapbook, photo album, baby books, recipe books, family tree /geneology, home movies, party planning, reunions

doing things together: cooking, building, doing art, singing, ceremonies, holiday activities, reading books aloud, story-telling, sharing, shopping

family math activities (from the book) do family finances together (use envelope system for bills)

creating collections – buttons, toys, cards, dolls, cars, etc.

build a train layout or dollhouse, work on the car, electronics kits

volunteer, service work, political action, church or religious activities

groups and clubs: sing-a-longs, geo-caching, gem and mineral club, weavers’ guild, etc.

outings, field trips: (to the post office, farm equipment store, historical sites, park or beach) travel or  vacation

quiet time: sitting cuddled on the couch with fire or candles lit or outside at night looking at the stars, singing or playing music together, reading or telling stories

Non-Academic Learning
note: academic skills may be learned!

How these Nurture Learning

Visual Arts: teach visual spatial skills, creativity, measurement, math, geometry, sequencing and procedures, reading instructions, problem-solving, focus and attention, etc.

Performance Art: teach creativity, balance, movement/kinesthetic development, physical education/health, social emotional, sequencing, auditory and/or visual spatial skills, group cooperation and problem-solving, rhythm and patterns, reading and math skills, focus and attention, memory, technical skills such as electricity, constuction, etc.

Nature: teach aesthetics, art, visual-spatial skills, science (botany, biology, anatomy, etc.) measurement, math, physical education/health, emotional/spiritual health, movement, attention and focus, memory, problem-solving, survival skills, etc.

Movement, Sports: helps with coordination of brain hemispheres, dexterity, motor planning, visual/spatial skills, rhythm and sequencing, 3-dimensional design, health, attention and focus, teamwork and group problem-solving, etc.


do yoga, Tai Chi, meditation

building toys: large blocks, Legos, tinker toys, Lincoln Logs, Brio, Capsela, K-Nex, Playmobil, Erector sets and other block sets, or use natural items such as sticks, bricks, and pinecones

cooking (freestyle or from recipe) / parties

fabric arts: sewing, knitting or finger knitting, crocheting, beadwork, weaving, embroidery,

clay & ceramics: playdough, plasticine, sculpey, modeling clay, wet clay (sculpt, wheel) plaster of paris, tilework

woodworking: whittling, wood carving, building, sculpture, furniture making

fine art: oil painting, watercolor, collage, drawing, pastels, charcoal, pen and ink, chalk, cartooning,

visual arts: graphic or computer art, photography, photo collage, graphic design, slide show, powerpoint, filmmaking, animation, CG, visual effects, special effects, community television

movement: dance, ballet,  gymnastics, eurhythmy, drill team or pageantry, martial arts (such as capoeira, tai chi, tae kwon do, karate, yoga, etc.) running and track, synchronized swimming, all sports (team, individual, water, competitive)

music: listening to live or recorded music, folk singing, choir, play musical instrument, musical composition, creaating instruments, recording music, scoring

theatrics: improvisation, stand-up comedy, sketch comedy, skits, theater productions, musical theater, reader’s theater, street theater, poetry readings, spoken word or slam poetry, puppetry, attending performances

circus skills: clowning, juggling, unicycle, diabolo, stilt-walking, balance board, etc.

theater design: costuming, lighting, set design, production

collections: coins, stamps, dolls, knick-knacks, antiques, postcards, maps, stuffed animals,

make models: cars, dinosaurs, science, dioramas, human body, train sets, miniatures, dollhouses, kits

nature: gardening, plants identification, community gardening, walking and hiking, survival skills, beekeeping, pets and animal care, photograph or draw in nature, listen and observe, journaling

writing: journals, blogs, online groups, poems, short stories, fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, letters

Play of all kinds:
learn math and language skills, social/emotional, art and creativity, imagination, health and movement, group problem-solving and social skills

swings, teeter-totter, slide, jungle gym

toss games, kickball, handball, four-square, other ball games

play tag or hide and seek, capture the flag, Red Rover, Dr. Tangle

sing or do chanting or clapping games; play finger games and cat’s cradle

card and board games, puzzles

build sandcastles or tunnels, bury your lower body in the sand

climb trees

scooping and pouring: water, sand, flour, cornmeal,  beans, or macaroni

ice sculptures (pour medium warm water over ice blocks or squirt w/ medicine droppers filled with food coloring

model with clay, plasticine or papier mache

fingerpaint or use shaving cream to draw on a tray and then make a print

use watercolor or tempera paint to make prints

cut out snowflakes or paper dolls

play with gooey things like cornstarch and water

trace over sandpaper letters or do rubbings of leaves, letters, or other objects

pretend to be a lion or ‘be’ the letter ‘S’, dress up and do pretend play

play with stuffed animals or dolls

pretend play with animal, Fischer Price, or Playmobil sets or other miniatures

roll up in a blanket or play with a sheet like a parachute

climb a tree, run, or roll down a hill

jump, hop and skip with rope or over sidewalk squares;

blowing bubbles with small wands or large string wands

silly play

take downtime to process and reflect: lay on the grass and look at clouds; go into a quiet place in the garden; cuddle up in blanket; daydream and let your mind go where it needs to go