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Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 3, No. 5 - September/October 2011

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Learning the Mulitsensory Way

By Janelle East-Jeffs

I'm sure you have all come across the following somewhere in your reading:

Edgar Dale stated that we remember:

  • 10% of what we read
  • 20% of what we hear
  • 30% of what we see
  • 50% of what we see & hear
  • 70% of what we discuss with others
  • 80% of what we personally experience
  • 95% of what we teach others

An old Chinese proverb says:

"Tell me, I forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me and I'll understand."

Multisensory learning is an extremely powerful strategy to engage your children and help them to grasp concepts they have previously had difficulty understanding. Incorporating sight, sound, touch and movement into their weekly spelling list or nightly reading can encourage better retention and recall, and often, spark motivation and enthusiasm to what is normally an excruciating 'pull your hair out' time of night that often ends in tears and anxiety.

This doesn't mean you have to incorporate all senses in every activity. However, simply saying/tracing/reading and writing a word simultaneously is an easy way to turn a spelling task into a multisensory task. It's easier than you think!


There are many multi sensory activities and games you can do with your child. Surfing the web will open your eyes up to a myriad of ideas. Try some of the following and see how you go!

  • Crawl to, hop on, jump over, bounce a ball or throw a bean bag onto large flashcards with sight words, single sounds, or blends.
  • Jump on the trampoline, read and say their times table flashcards. Your child must say the times table as they bounce (e.g.
    4 x 4 = 16 requires 3 bounces).
  • Write letter formations in the air, or on their back and make them with play dough to trace correct formations.
    Finger paint, use shaving cream, draw words in flour on the kitchen bench or use sidewalk chalk in the driveway when learning sight words or challenging words they have come across in their reader.
  • Play memory, snap and other card games with times tables and words.
  • Use highlighters, textas, mindmapping, and models to revise concepts.
  • Always read, say, hear, write/trace when you do the activities to ensure you are engaging as many senses as you can.
  • Providing your child with a dictaphone to tell their story is a great way to enhance their writing skills. They can rewind and replay to transfer it into a written format.

About Essential Moves

The children at Essential Moves are more often than not, those children in the classroom who just don't fit the education system. They don't learn by being drowned in a sea of words with the teacher standing at the front of the room providing "chalk and talk" lectures. They need to visualize, move, play, imagine, touch, say, draw and engage as many senses as they can through the learning process. All children have strengths within the different senses. Some children are auditory-sequential learners who think in words, have auditory strengths and learn phonics easily. Other children are visual-spatial learners who think in pictures, are visually strong, however, learn whole words easily.

More Information

Janelle East-Jeffs
BA.Teach, BA.Ed
Senior Teacher
Essential Moves
2/33 Crescent Rd, Waratah 2298
P: 02 4967 1205


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