Recent research on dynamic visualizations suggests that these visualizations are effective for learning human movements such as knot tying or paper folding. Using embodied theories of cognition, this study investigated whether learning non-human movements from a dynamic visualization can also be enhanced by grounding these movements in the learner's motor system. University students viewed an animation on lightning formation, and followed the animation's movements with gestures, saw an on-screen human hand follow the movements or saw an arrow follow the movements. Results showed that observing an on-screen human hand following the movements in the animation, but not actually performing these movements, enhanced retention and transfer performance compared with watching the animation without gestures. This suggests that observation of human hand movement in animation-based instruction, which plays an important role in learning of procedural-motor tasks, can also improve people's learning from other dynamic systems. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.