Incorporating the Five Senses to Stimulate Learning

Kids learn in a variety of different ways. Some may be auditory learners, while others may be visual learners. Each child is different so it is important to teach in a multitude of ways to engage each and every sense. Multisensory environments not only cater to each individual student, but it is also known to improve the development of thought, intelligence, and social skills. It gives them more than one way to make connections and learn concepts. Particularly in younger students who have not fully developed all their senses, multisensory environments can improve concentration, alertness, memory, mobilization creativity, and communication. Each of these aspects promotes learning and retention to help students grow and succeed in the future. As teachers, this is all we want for our students. So, here are some ways you can create a multi-sensory space that promotes learning.

Space Speaks to Children

Children, especially younger children, are excited by the things around them. If there’s too much space, children will zoom into it, if the hallway is too long they will think “run”, and if it is too close to the cafeteria, the smell of lunch will distract them all day. You need to design a sensory room that blocks out distractions from the outside world and increases the use of all five senses within that space.

Sight

  • Model positive expressions: There’s a reason why teachers and even businessmen post inspirational quotes around their rooms. Language is powerful and seeing these images inspire us to work harder.
  • Use colors: Certain colors are known to activate responses that promote learning. The color red promotes attention, so use it to direct children towards things they should be paying attention to. Yellow stimulates mental activity and prevents boredom. Cooler colors such as blue is known to calm students and can help them if they feel something is too complicated.

Sound

  • Use a positive tone: When talking to students, particularly those that are younger, use a happier voice to encourage participation. Also, praise students often as the sound of praise is encouraging and builds children’s confidence and self-esteem.
  • Reduce background noise: Chronic background noise is associated with several auditory and learning problems. It contributes to neural noise where brain neurons fire spontaneously and distracts the student from learning.
  • Incorporate music: Use music when appropriate for learning. There is a strong link between music and cognitive ability. It enhances learning, memory, language, and attention.

Touch

  • Control the temperature: According to a study done by the University of Scranton, the optimal temperature for students to learn is 72 degrees. Other studies done by multiple universities have found similar findings.
  • Finger paint: Not only is finger painting a fun activity, but the touch of paint soothes the mind and calms emotions. Finger painting also encourages cognitive development and strengthens motor skills.  

Smell

Smell is the strongest of the senses and can directly influence brain activity. Your sense of smell is tied to the limbic system and directly connects to parts of the brain responsible for processing emotions and learning. The following scents are great for a classroom.

  • Lavender provides calming properties that control emotional stress. It relaxes the nerves and can help increase attention.
  • Rosemary improves memory retention and has properties that fight against exhaustion and mental fatigue.
  • Peppermint increases energy levels and encourages better concentration and clearer thinking.

Taste

  • Incorporate tastes from around the world: Tasting and making dishes from around the world can help promote the learning of history or geography lessons. Associating a fact with a taste can boost memory and help students retain the information better.
  • Make food together: Working together to create a dish will help students get along and learn communication skills. With a tasty prize at the end, they will be more encouraged to work harder.

Our five senses work hard every minute of every day, but if we can control the senses and direct them towards certain activities it can be beneficial for our ability to learn and grow. With a multisensory environment, your students will learn quicker, faster, and retain information longer. 

After taking a career sabbatical to become a mother, Jackie now writes full time on topics ranging from IT and software through to business and finance. She has, in the past battled problems with anxiety and panic, and in her spare time she volunteers for a number of local charities that support people with mental health issues.

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