Studies have shown that we rely heavily on our senses to process information when learning.
In other words, we use all 5 senses to learn.
Thus, engaging more than one sense when teaching can help information processing.
And this is why we need to think about how to make learning multi-sensory.
Using multiple senses allows more cognitive connections and associations with a concept to happen.
This means it is more easily accessible to your students as there are more ways the information is triggered and retrieved from their cognitive learning center.
We all have different learning styles, and as a teacher, it is crucial to make lessons beneficial to all your students.
So, how can we make learning multi-sensory? Here are a couple of tips!
Learning Is Multi-Sensory: How To Engage All The Senses So Children Really Benefit
Although it might seem obvious, sight is a crucial sense when it comes to learning, especially for visual learners who use this sense the most.
Sight does not get enough emphasis as most activities involve ‘seeing,’ so we end up taking it for granted.
To make lessons more memorable, engage your students with eye-catching resources.
Black and white sheets are not motivating or stimulating and become easily dull to children.
There is a delicate balance between making a resource, for example, a worksheet, attractive to children yet not too distracting from the task.
Use resources that incorporate colors and characters into the work itself.
Actual ‘looking tasks’ are beneficial to children’s cognitive development.
For example, word searches, spot the difference, and ‘Where is …?’ make them pay attention to, and register small details, more.
Sight tasks can be incredibly memorable tools when used effectively – so make sure to incorporate them in learning.
Sound plays a crucial role for everyone in the learning path but particularly for auditory learners.
It helps children understand the world around them better and provides another layer of comprehension that sight alone can’t offer.
Incorporate tasks that use hearing into the classroom.
Studies find that playing soft, calming music when working can help concentration, so put on a classical CD during quiet time as background music.
Additionally, there are aural tasks that offer a different type of activity, which makes everyday learning fun for children.
Playing tapes that involve ‘identifying and labeling’ gives children the chance to develop a holistic concept.
For example, they may know what an animal looks like, but by hearing their sound, they can begin to understand more aspects of the species.
Nature is just one example of where sound can aid comprehension; it is also a useful tool in PE, geography, and science.
It is hard to find a subject where it will not aid learning, so incorporating hearing tasks into lessons will only be beneficial.
Everyone loves food- and it can be educational!
Aside from food technology, taste can play a large part in the curriculum, for example, in history and geography.
Tasting and making dishes from around the world or a famous historical food are fun activities for your students and will undoubtedly make for a memorable lesson.
If you can associate a fact with a fun memory, it helps you to retain more information.
For example, if you were doing yeast reactions in science, actually making bread from yeast will provide a vivid image for your students to relate the scientific facts to.
And they reinforce it further by tasting the bread.
Or, irreversible reactions can use food such as boiling eggs and making jelly.
So, although baking might not seem all that relevant to science, by engaging multiple senses, it will increase fact memory.
Additionally, baking is a group activity, and it will reinforce team spirit and cooperation in your students.
The sense of smell is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal.
We subconsciously associate smells with different things, for example, family members, happy memories, or places.
You can use this in the classroom by building associations with different smells and linking them to the lesson.
If you are teaching about flowers, get some particularly pungent plants for the children to sniff.
The same applies to most subjects.
Additionally, having a fresh smelling classroom makes for a thriving learning environment, so open the windows and invest in an air freshener to let the motivational breeze in!
Don’t forget about smell; this strong sense is easily overlooked and underused.
Children learn better if they have something in front of them that they can feel and physically touch, and even better if they made it themselves.
Get your students expressing themselves using play dough, plasticine, paint, bubble wrap, paper-mache – the list is endless!
This is a chance to get creative with your students and let them experiment themselves through making and touching.
Textures are an important tool, and creativity can develop in school under the right conditions, so do incorporate touch into your activities.
Lessons incorporating touch and movement will be particularly beneficial to kinesthetic learners and it will be fun for everyone.
So, to have a happy classroom and successful students ensure that learning is multi-sensory and include activities that stimulate all the senses into your lessons.
Has this article helped you think up of ways to incorporate the senses in learning?
How are you going to make learning multi-sensory for your kids or students?
We’d love to hear from you!
Anna Pitts is an Online Researcher at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau in the U.K.