Use your senses

Tuesday, 21 March 2017
Kirsty Haines

The five senses have a significant role to play in helping children to learn, with research showing that when multiple senses are engaged, children make more cognitive associations and connections with concepts.

Learning outside of the classroom offers a wealth of opportunities to engage multi-sensory learning. The change in environment offers new sights, smells and sounds for the children, alongside creating a new stage on which to present ideas and have pupils engage with topics.

A visit to Birmingham Botanical Gardens butterfly house would offer children the opportunity to learn about butterfly lifecycles through sight and touch. Imagine walking into a warm butterfly house teeming with hundreds of colourful butterflies fluttering all around; and a butterfly coming so close that it lands on your shoulder for a bit of a rest! This is a magical sensory experience for children of all ages and particularly powerful when combined with the teaching of butterfly lifecycles.

Farm visits can offer a wide variety of sensory learning activities including animal handling, tasting food grown on the farm, seeing farm machinery in action and of course the ubiquitous smells, which always cause a comment or two from the pupils! There are hundreds of farms up and down the country which host regular school visits and some also offer free visits for a set number of schools each year. Use our Places to Visit search function, to find a farm near you.

But sensory learning can be just as effective in the classroom setting too. Food and basic cooking incorporates all 5 senses and can be as simple as asking children to touch fruit and vegetables and to identify the different textures and smells. Taste tests enable pupils to explore different flavours and to compare similarities and differences. Here are some easy cooking ideas to get you started.

You could even focus directly on the 5 senses and have your class investigate if animals and humans use their senses in the same way. What are the similarities and differences? This farm animal senses resource will give you lesson planning ideas and also looks at a variety of farm animals.

With just a little thought, the 5 senses can be incorporated into all manner of lessons and school trips.

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