Learning isn't just about what information your youngster is exposed to but how his brain interprets and organizes that information. When he can see, hear, touch and move all at the same time, your preschooler is stimulating multiple areas of his brain and encouraging retention much more effectively than when information is processed through a single pathway. Now that you know just how useful multisensory learning is, incorporate a few activities each day and he'll be outsmarting the grownups before you know it.
1. Multisensory Letter Learning
Kids learn best when you stimulate multiple senses at the same time. He's far more likely to remember the letter of the week when, instead of just showing him the letter, you introduce it to him with tactile, auditory and even kinetic stimulation. Show him a letter “T” cut from a piece of sandpaper for him to feel, and sing a song to help it sink in. Then really drive the lesson home by helping him stretch himself into the letter in front of a mirror. When he's ready for more of the alphabet, mix it up a bit. Cut the letter “S” from a regular piece of paper and have him help glue sparkles all over. Read a story about the letter and then help him slither on the floor like a snake. Now he's learning like never before, and you're having lots of fun coming up with new ways to incorporate all of his senses.
2. Music Makers
Combine kinetics and auditory stimulation together with a music maker activity. Start off by helping your youngster create two or three different types of instruments, and then join her band so the two of you can make beautiful music together. Start off your band instruments with a shaker, made from an empty margarine container. Fill the container about halfway with dried beans and then seal the lid shut with clear tape. Pull out your kiddo's creative skills for a few minutes to turn the container into a decorative instrument and then let her try it out to hear the new sounds. Make some jingling bells from an empty paper towel roll and some tiny bells. Thread a bell onto a chenille craft stick and then poke it through the roll. Keep it up to add as many bells as you like. If your artist is still into the activity, have her paint the roll before music time. What band is complete without a set of drums? Cut off the end of a few balloons and then slide two over the end of an old coffee can. Voila -- instant drums!
3. Painting Activities
Painting in itself is a multisensory activity -- it combines visual stimulation along with kinetic movement -- and then there's always the auditory stimulation as you dish out endless praise over his creative artwork. How about taking multisensory learning to a whole new level the next time you bring out the paints? Start with some finger painting to let him explore the sensation of the paint between his fingers and then move on to brushes so he can compare his work. Mix some sparkles with his finger paints to compare the rough texture and then feel the difference when the paint dries. Let him experiment with puffy paints on clothing or on canvas to feel the squishy, bumpy stuff once it dries. With this much sensory stimulation during art time, you never know just how far his creative side will take him.
4. Squishy Sensory Bags
Painting may offer your youngster some wonderful sensory stimulation but wow, what a mess it can make! If you don't have time right now to worry about paint on the walls and the floors, that's okay. Make some sensory stimulation bags and she'll have just as much fun with absolutely no mess. Pick up a discount bottle of hair gel and squeeze the whole bottle into a big, sealable bag. Add a few drops of food coloring and pour in about half a jar of glitter. Mix it all up and seal the bag. Add some clear tape around the seal for good measure. Now it's time for some sensory exploration. Let your kiddo feel the bag and squeeze it to move the contents inside and then lay the bag flat and let her draw through the bag. If you don't have cheap hair gel lying around, that's okay. You can fill the bag with a little bit of paint, vegetable oil and food coloring or glue and glitter to give your preschooler hours of multisensory fun.
- Sensory Integration: A Guide for Preschool Teachers; Christy Isbell, et al.
- Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues; Lindsey Biel, et al.
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