How to Design a Multisensory Lesson
Sarah Major, M.Ed. is passionate about working in harmony with a child's immaculate design to support their learning strengths. As a Title 1 Program Director and Designer, Sarah earned awards for creating her own multisensory educational resources that have now been sold in all 50 states and over 150 countries. Sarah’s approach combines all learning modalities into every lesson, allowing for the ability to teach once and reach all.
Multisensory - What it Really Means
Many products claim to be multisensory. How can you really know to what extent the learning experience will be truly multisensory for your child? Because learners are all different, the most excellent learning experiences, the most effective learning activities, are going to be the ones that utilize components from all three modalities at one time. It is not sufficient to have a child looking and writing at one time. Yes, it is involving two senses, but that is not enough to make a powerful multisensory learning experience for your child.
The graphic organizer shows what elements might be included in a multisensory learning activity so you can judge for yourself if a product or learning activity truly merits being called multisensory.
I could have put this information in a string of paragraphs for you to read, but since I am a visual learner myself, I found it appealing to make a visual graph of the information. Start on the left with the triangle, and proceed to explore the three modalities and suggested learning strategies for each one.
Remember, to be truly multisensory, the activity or learning piece must incorporate elements from all three categories at one time.
For the left-brainers: an outline
What is Multisensory Learning?
The best multisensory learning experience engages all three modalities simultaneously.
I. Visual Strategies for Learning
A. Tie learning concepts to known objects
B. Show learning detail in its global whole
C. Illustrate own learning
D. Discover patterns found in learning
E. Use Visual Maps
F. Show learning in a graph (like this one above)
G. Embed visuals in symbols
II. Kinesthetic and Tactile Strategies for Learning
A. Writing learning
B. Body movement tied to learning
C. Hands-on constructivist learning
D. Visualize motion in learning
E. Act out learning
III. Auditory Strategies for Learning
A. Sounding or speaking during writing
B. Storytelling for teaching concepts
C. Rhyming and rhythm
D. Auditory amplification
E. Reading out loud
Examples of Multisensory Learning Activities
Learning the ABCs and related sounds:
Use our stylized alphabet cards which use the following strategies:
● Tie learning concept to know object, such as M for Mountains, T for Table
● Embed visuals in symbols - each letter is stylized to look like the known object
● Writing learning - kids write the letter sound on whiteboards as they are learning them
● Each letter has a corresponding body motion/ hand motion
● Visualize motion in learning - when making M, kids imagine walking up the first hill, sliding down the other side, then walking up the second hill, and sliding down the other side
● Sounding during writing - each sound a child learns, he will write on whiteboard with colored marker WHILE he is sounding what he is writing
● Storytelling for teaching concepts - sounds are introduced and related to their shapes using Alphabet Tales, fully illustrated stories that tell how each sound came to be formed as it did
Learning sight words and related meaning:
Use our sylized sight word cards which use the following strategies:
● Embed visuals in the symbols - our sight words are not illustrated, rather they have the visual embedded in the word
● Storytelling for teaching concepts - the sentence on the reverse side of the card conjures up a setting & scene
● Body movement tied to learning - the motion on the reverse side of the card is a kinesthetic strategy
● Reading out loud - children will say the sight word, do the body motion, and see the visual at the same time