Engage the Senses to Engage the Audience
By: Kirsten Smith & FHE 123
Teaching Strategies Series: 10 ways to increase multi-sensory instruction, and why it matters.
Life is full of sensory input– Sights, sounds, smells, and things to touch and taste. While going through our daily routines, we make memories and emotional connections that relate to one or more of these senses. Scientific studies and personal experiences prove that when experiences connect with more than one sense, our memories are stronger and our recall is more reliable. We can create associations that, even years later, can transport us back to a specific time and place.
And yet, when we sit down to teach a lesson, we often create an environment void of sensory input. We insist children sit still and remain quiet. And while this may be beneficial for their ability to physically hear the lesson, it does nothing to create those associations we need if we want them to remember what we discussed and how it made them feel. Instead, we can help individuals connect with the lesson material and form lasting memories better if we add multi-sensory instruction into our lessons.
“To help others want to learn, our teaching must be interesting. To help them understand, our teaching must be clear. To help them retain and ponder what they learn, our teaching must be memorable. These are the reasons for selecting teaching methods carefully and using them effectively: to make lessons interesting, clear, and memorable.”
-Teaching No Greater Call Manual
Teaching Strategies Series
This article is one of several where we hope to help you increase family engagement by strengthening your teaching skills within the home. Our primary goal is to increase family and personal participation during your gospel-centered lessons and discussions. We previously discussed how giving everyone a teaching opportunity can increase involvement and learning. And, how asking the right questions can help our family members connect to and be inspired by our lesson material. Today let’s dive into how we can use multi-sensory instruction methods as a way to make lessons interesting and memorable.
Family Home Evening
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints encourages all families to hold regular Family Home Evenings (FHE). During these focused moments, families gather together to teach and strengthen one another, learn more about Christ and His gospel, and have fun in a safe and loving home environment.
Home learning is no different from learning at school, church, or work. The same techniques used in a classroom can apply in our home. Teachers outside the home may have more experience or training but they can not replicate the potential for loving and eternal relationships that exist at home. All home settings look different, but even in less-than-ideal situations, the home can be a powerful center for gospel teaching because of the relationships built there.
However, Family Home Evening lessons do not need to be like formal lessons in the chapel. We can maintain focus and control while still having fun. Today we hope to share some quick and easy ways to add multi-sensory moments to your lessons.
FHE123 Activities are Multi-Sensory
Here at FHE123, we know that your time is limited. Our weekly lessons focus on a gospel principle from the Come Follow Me curriculum, turning a topic into an easy-to-present lesson. Complete with
The activity portion of each lesson comes ready to go with several multi-sensory options to help connect your family to the message you want to share. You’ll find videos, worksheets or coloring pages, and hands-on object lesson ideas that will provide novelty and excitement to each lesson. Our goal is that you will consider the needs of your family, including age and attention span, as you choose which activities to complete.
As we work towards lessons that are interesting and memorable we would be wise to focus on variety while still maintaining the routines that help our lessons stay clear and easy to understand. Because our FHE123 lessons follow a similar pattern each week, they can provide consistency and clarity. However, the activity section of each lesson adds the variety that is needed as well. Using these activities is critical to having a well-balanced lesson. We have found success in these easy-to-use lessons without being boring or monotonous.
Using our activity ideas you will add variety and keep family members engaged without having to work too hard. Not only does being engaged in the lesson help individuals learn, but when we can also appeal to the learner's senses, we can also help them connect with the material, stay engaged, and form lasting memories of the principles being taught. In addition to the activity portion, there are also ways to add multi-sensory instruction to the scripture and lesson portion of our FHE123 plans. We have compiled 10 ways you can add variety to the existing lesson plans without having to create your own lessons. But first, let's clarify what types of senses we are talking about.
“The senses are gateways to the intelligence. There is nothing in the intelligence which did not first pass through the senses.”
The Five Senses
The 5 basic human senses involve our eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and hands. As we see, hear, taste, smell and touch the world we connect our bodies to the environment around us. But science is realizing there are more ways we experience the world around us—things like our sense of balance, spacial awareness, and movement.
Regardless of how many official senses we agree on, most children learn best when multiple senses are involved. For example, individuals who can read along while listening to something being read aloud will engage both their sense of sight and sound. Our bodies are not meant to absorb information through isolated inputs. Lessons that appeal to the senses will be more interesting and memorable to our family members.
Include Movement when appropriate
Physical movement has a strong connection to learning. It creates a mind-body connection that helps retain the information; even when the actions are not directly related to the material. It is also effective at refocusing young brains when they inevitably begin to wander or get distracted. For this reason, we are specifically including movement activities in our discussion about multi-sensory teaching methods. Children, especially young children, have a natural curiosity coupled with a short attention span that responds well to variety. But even adults benefit from switching things up during a lesson to keep them engaged.
Learning on the Go
Formal family home evening lessons are not the only time and place we can teach gospel principles to our family. Teaching opportunities also come during everyday moments. In these moments, we may find our bodies are already busy, allowing the mind to be more receptive to learning. Lessons taught while eating a meal, playing a game, taking a walk, traveling in the car, or watching a movie are naturally multi-sensory. Use these moments as inspiration when creating the environment for your more formal FHE lessons.
As we shift our thinking from lecture-style lessons to more interactive ones, we can also shift our focus from insisting FHE takes place while sitting quietly and calmly. Instead, we should use appropriate teaching strategies to help our lessons be interesting, clear, and memorable. We should acknowledge the benefit of allowing children to move their bodies, actively participate in lessons, and experience a variety of teaching styles. And thankfully, we can do all that without having to recreate any lesson plans. With an understanding of these principles, and a few simple adjustments to how we teach, we can improve our ability to teach effectively.
10 Ways to add Multi-Sensory Variety to your FHE123 lesson plans
Conduct lessons around the table where family members can eat or snack on food while they listen to the lesson
Invite children to move during the lesson by having them stand up when they hear a keyword read in a scripture passage or mimic related actions to words in a story
Act out scripture stories or role-play scenarios related to the gospel principle. (This could be as simple as pretending to turn in a tithing slip to a bishopric member during a lesson on tithing)
Use the gospel art book or an electronic device to show pictures during the lesson. The younger the child, the more you’ll want to use
When asking open-ended questions, write everyone’s answers on a large poster or whiteboard to see
Listen to related hymns and primary songs and move your body to the song as you sing along
Invite children to draw, build, color, or write something related to a gospel principle after the lesson
Repeat and memorize the scripture together instead of simply reading it once
Allow children to color a picture while listening
Use the object lessons, printable pages, and videos provided for you in the FHE123 weekly lesson plan.
It is as easy as that!
As you intentionally add more sensory and movement activities into your lesson we hope you will find success. Don’t feel the need to do each item above during every FHE. Instead, try out a few and see which ones your children respond best to. Or, use your understanding of the importance of multi-sensory instruction and movement to create your own power-packed teaching moments within the lessons. Your family is going to love this new approach, good luck & Happy FHE-ing!
Teaching No Greater Call Manual
Teaching the Saviors Way Manual