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Multisensory Teaching Methods in the Inclusive Classroom

written by: Rose Kivi • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 2/8/2012

Multisensory instruction is an affective teaching method in the inclusive classroom. General education and special education students can all benefit from multisensory learning.

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    General education and special education students can all benefit from multisensory learning. Individual students process information differently. Utilizing various senses in the instructional setting helps enable optimal learning for every student in the classroom. Incorporating visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic, taste and smell in the instructional setting assist students in learning and retaining classroom material.

    Teachers using multisensory teaching methods look for ways to actively involve the students and their senses in classroom activities. Using two or more senses at the same time increases learning retention. Curriculum can be adapted to incorporate multisensory elements. Additional multisensory classroom activities can be used to enhance and build upon textbook curriculum.

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    Sample Learning Activities

    • Students watch films.
    • The classroom reads textbooks aloud.
    • Students sing mathematical equations and spelling words.
    • Groups of students perform mini plays in front of the class.
    • Objects are passed around for the students to touch or taste or smell. (Depending on the object.)
    • Students mimic the movement of an object.
    • The teacher assigns a student a subject to pantomime in front of the class while the other students guess the subject.
    • Students bring an item to school for show and tell, based on a subject the teacher assigns. The student explains the item to the classroom and passes it around for their fellow students to investigate.

    Students learn by doing. Multisensory learning allows the students to actively participate in the learning process. Teachers can evaluate students with different strengths to play different roles in multisensory learning. For example, a student who is having difficulty with spelling can draw a picture on the chalk board. A strong reader can be assigned to spell the word that belongs to the picture while the rest of the class copies the spelling of the word onto paper.

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    Group Activities

    In an inclusive classroom setting, students are often divided into small groups learning groups with special needs students grouped separately from general education students. With mutlisensory learning, special education and general education students can be in the same learning group for some activities.

    A good example activity for a group like this would be: Students are given an orange. Each student touches, smells and tastes the orange. The students write descriptive words for the orange on a piece of paper. Although the students write descriptive words with varying degrees of difficulty, they are able to complete the activity together. Allowing special education and general education students to complete activities together enables important social interaction between special education and general education students in the inclusive classroom.

    Multisensory learning is an interactive experience for students. Interactive classroom activities create an enjoyable learning environment for students. Students that enjoy learning are more successful in school.