How to Stimulate Learning by Incorporating the 5 Senses

How do you learn?

As an educator, you are likely familiar with the VARK model and how that influences learning approaches and outcomes. However, how do you go beyond that to stimulate learning in a way that helps your students absorb and retain information? 

One way you can do this is by using the five senses. If you want to learn how to stimulate learning through the five senses, keep reading.

What Are the Five Senses?

When discussing the five senses of human beings, we are discussing touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing. These five senses are well-known to most. 

While we are not limited to just these five senses as humans, these are the ones we will focus on today

Why Is Stimulating Learning Through the Five Senses Effective?

When you learn something by utilizing the five senses, neural pathways are created in the correlating area of your brain. When these pathways are created, through the use of the five senses, it helps your brain reactivate the connections and recall the information when you need it again. 

When you use more than one sensory channel in the learning process, there are more connections, and that makes it even easier to retrieve the memory from the recesses of your brain at another time and repeatedly.



Touch is one of the earliest ways humans learn. Through touch, we can explore the world around us and discover our environments. 

Stimulating learning through touch is especially great for children who are kinesthetic learners. However, touch is an excellent way for any child to learn. 

There are many activities you can incorporate into your classroom to help your students learn through touch.

How to Stimulate Learning Through Touch

When you touch something, what does it teach you? Well, it depends. 

If you are touching a stove that is hot, it can teach you cause and effect. Touch also teaches through natural consequences. Obviously, you do not want students in your classroom to learn through dangerous actions such as touching something hot. 

So how do you take this concept and transport it to the classroom while providing a safe learning environment? The answer to this question will vary depending on the age of the children and the concept you are teaching. 

Infancy to Two Years Old 

Touch is a very important learning tool for children in this age range. Touch not only teaches about objects and textures but also about how things work. Touch enhances necessary motor skills. 

Allowing young children to manipulate different materials helps with coordination, hand strength, and manual dexterity. Activities such as fingerprinting encourage pre-literacy skills and expression of feelings, as well as learning colors. 

Exploring textures allows younger kids to develop their sense of touch. In addition, you can practice identification through touch. Touching items in a box without looking will help to learn how different objects feel. This activity calls on critical thinking skills at an age-appropriate level. 

School Age 

As children get older, what they learn through touch will shift and evolve. However, there are simple ways to enable your students to learn through touch. 

Are you teaching children in your classroom about weight and measurements? Have your students lift items and feel the different weights. Ask them to identify what objects are heavier and which are lighter. 

What about temperature? You can have your students touch different items to identify temperature. If you’re trying to give lessons in texture, you can have students touch and describe different objects. 

You can also have students collect items from the natural world by taking them to various outdoor settings to collect and categorize items by their sense of touch. These collections can then be expressed through the feelings they invoke.

Beyond Lesson Time

Beyond lesson time, you can continue to stimulate learning through the temperature of the classroom. Students learn better at around 72 degrees Fahrenheit. 

There have been various studies that have shown that the temperature of the classroom directly impacts learning. For optimal learning outcomes, you do not want your students to be too hot or too cold.


Does taste sound a little confusing? How in the world do children learn through taste? You can go with the easy method of learning the difference between sour, sweet, salty, and savory. 

However, you can stimulate learning on a much deeper level. Beyond what is commonly understood. 

How to Stimulate Learning Through Taste

You can help students learn through taste in science, geography, languages, and more. If you are teaching students Spanish or another language, utilize food in your lessons that teach about cultural foods that rise from the terrain, weather, and access to agricultural products. 

If you are teaching geography, cook with your students and incorporate recipes from different geographical regions. Take time to taste the foods and describe their flavors and the feeling each student experienced. . If you’re teaching science, make rock candy or bake with your students to teach them how different chemicals interact with each other and create varying flavors. 

In math, you can teach your students about measurements by teaching them how to follow a recipe and layout ingredients. They can double or cut recipes in half. They can also add and remove ingredients to understand the impact each has on taste. Students can be taught, through these activities to collect data and demonstrate their actions through graphing. In English, you can teach descriptive writing by having students create stories and poems about what emotions and feelings are brought up by taste.

Beyond Lesson Time

Did you know that students who eat peppermint during a test score better? Studies test scores rise by ten percent as compared to students who did not eat a peppermint. 


The smell is our strongest sense. It has the ability to influence brain activity directly. 

The sense of smell is tied to our limbic system. This system connects to the parts of your brain that are responsible for processing learning and emotions.

How to Stimulate Learning Through Smell

Have you ever seen the Disney movie, Anastasia? When she goes to Paris to meet her grandmother, her memories, which have been long locked away, are triggered by the smell of peppermint. 

Different smells become associated with memories and people. You can utilize this in the classroom to help your students learn. 

For example, if you are teaching your students about plants and flowers in a science section, grab some strong-smelling flowers and have your students smell them. Linking this smell to the lesson will create a neural pathway that can later be recalled. As with our sense

Beyond Lesson Time

Over recent years, aromatherapy has become more popular. People are realizing the power of smell and how it can impact the brain and body. 

There are certain scents you can utilize in your classroom to help your students. Lavender will help with calming your students. It relaxes and helps students pay better attention. 

Rosemary helps ensure that your students do not struggle with mental fatigue. It also helps students improve memory attention and fight exhaustion. 

Peppermint helps to increase your student’s energy levels. If your students tend to hit a midday slump, peppermint may be your solution. It also helps to improve concentration and helps students think clearly.


When it comes to sight, this is one of the most overlooked senses. When we are engaging in activities, sight is automatically incorporated.

The Anastasia reference from above talks about how Anastasia’s memory was triggered by scent. However, if you recall, immediately after, her memory was triggered even further by the sight of a music box. 

Certain items and colors can help to create memories and stimulate learning. 

How do you utilize sight in the classroom in a way that really helps to encourage learning and helps create neural pathways?

How to Stimulate Learning Through Sight

Do you tend to simply write on the chalkboard or give out black and white handouts to incorporate sight into your student’s learning? While this certainly doesn’t hurt, there are ways you can create your materials to allow them to be even more beneficial to your students. 

When you are incorporating sight into learning, the most important thing you can do is add color. Black and white are not motivating or stimulating. Various colors can activate different responses. 

In addition, color can help prevent boredom. Here is the caution that comes along with that; there is a balance that is needed. It is possible to overstimulate children and distract them from the task at hand if the visual cues become too much.

You can also add visual aids to your teaching in order to stimulate learning in that method. This is especially helpful for children who are visual learners.

Beyond Lesson Time

Did you know that you can stimulate learning through your classroom decorations? Motivational and inspirational quotes can inspire your students to work harder. 

However, it goes even further; the colors you choose for your classroom can play a role in learning. For example, the color orange can help boost memory and critical thinking skills. Green can help with your student’s concentration by calming them. 

While the color red can act as an energizer and promote creativity. There are various colors you can utilize in your classroom; however, red, orange, green, blue, and yellow are all colors that will help stimulate learning in various ways.


Last but not least, you can stimulate learning through hearing. This last one may seem a little obvious; you stand in front of your students and talk and teach; stimulating learning through hearing is a no-brainer. 

However, taking this a step further is easy and essential in the classroom.

How to Stimulate Learning Through Hearing

Stimulating learning through hearing can be done easily; however, it does require you to think about it. Going back to the example of Anastasia, when she is opening the music box, she begins to hum a song. 

When that song begins playing from the music box, she is able to remember more. Sound can help trigger memories that are saved in various neural pathways as much as sight or smell can. 

You can incorporate hearing into many subjects. For example, if you are working on reading with your students, give them a set of headphones and an audiobook and paper book. Have them follow along in the book as they listen to the story being read. 

For younger children, play tapes of animal noises for your students to help them identify the animal and make new connections between sight and sound.

Do you remember making a rainstorm as a child with claps and friction on pant legs or by rubbing your hands together? This is another way to incorporate sound into your lesson time. You make a storm, and you learn about weather and science at the same time. 

As you consider hearing, don’t forget to consider your tone and the words you use

If your tone is harsh and strict, students are more likely to tune out. However, if you use a tone that is happy and excited, it will help your students to be excited about learning and participating. 

In addition, allowing children to hear praise will build their self-confidence and self-esteem. This will ultimately help them feel more confident in their ability to learn.

Beyond Lesson Time

Beyond lesson time, there are various ways you can incorporate sound to help stimulate learning. However, there are two big ones we want to address here. 

The first is to reduce background noise. Background noise can distract students and actually deter the learning process. By reducing them, you give your students the best chance at success. 

The second is to utilize music in the classroom. Music is great to help students with learning. 

Classical music is an excellent choice to put on while your students study. Music not only enhances learning but also memory, language, and attention. 

Improve Learning Through the Five Senses

Now that you know how to stimulate learning through the five senses, there’s no better time to start than now. 

Karen Guiffre is dedicated to creating healthy learning environments that foster the spirit of education. Keep reading to learn how you can make learning real for the students in your classroom.

Masks On or Off?

Educators First and Foremost — With Masks On or Off

I remember, just three short months ago, my colleague, Dr. Maribeth Edmunds and I, were brainstorming all that could be done with the abundance of cloth masks worn to school day after day during the COVID pandemic. We imagined a quilt much like The NAMES Project AIDS Memoria†rl Quilt made so many years ago. We were almost giddy as we were lulled into thinking masks were a thing of the past. 

Today, face mask wars are in full force as departments of education and legislative branches from state to state decide, with great urgency, whether to mandate masks in school, as the new COVID Delta variant attacks our children in record numbers. 

The divide among legislators, public health officials, educators, and parents are being seen in courtrooms, town halls, classrooms, and school buildings. There has been little as polarizing in recent months. In The Atlantic, Kelly Carothers, mother of twin 5-year olds in Florida, worries, “The kids are sitting ducks,” while irate parents in Franklin, Tennessee, shout “We will not comply” to a mask mandate. 

While contention and disruption brews, “I am an educator,” rings in my ears and causes me to stand tall, with pride. I, and my fellow educators, make a profound difference in children’s lives. We are essential to their upbringing, their development as whole people, and their sense of responsibility as citizens of this great nation. Children need us now, more than ever, to be their champions, their mentors, their arbiters of data and facts as they grapple with fear, anxiety, and loss.  

The new variant of the COVID virus, and the looming danger surrounding children can be overwhelming. Add to this the tension among adults debating masks and vaccines. Children are being asked to live beyond their years. They are losing so much more than adults, as they lose their childhood. We can, as educators, return to them opportunities to wonder, play, make friends, and learn. Isn’t this the promise we made when we accepted the monumental responsibility of teaching children?

Look beyond the rancorous noise and capture the hearts and minds of your students. Smile and they will smile back. Wearing a mask? Do this with your eyes, your voice, and your body. Do it with what you offer in the classroom. Speaking of classrooms, remember the term does not dictate four walls and a door. Take children outside in the fresh air where they can remove their masks, breathe deeply, and take in the wonders of nature while they read, write, calculate, and express their wonderings and knowledge. Be creative in your development of curriculum, imagine ways to teach history, science, and math using wide-open spaces and found materials. 

Worried about managing children outdoors? Spend less money on the purchase of standardized tests and study materials and reallocate the funds. Hire aides, nature guides, and Paraprofessionals. Join forces with your colleagues and teach in mixed-aged groups where older children help those younger than them. Expand your ability to manage children with a co-teacher at your shoulder. Team-teach with a respect for your colleague’s schema and approach to educating. You may find this refreshing and inspiring. 

If not now then when? When will we, educators, remind the world of our importance, impact, and contribution to society? When will we stand up for the children we know to be powerful, resourceful, and competent? When will we stand for their right to evolve through all of childhood’s milestones and luscious moments? Now is the time to embrace children, to offer them our very best selves. We are first and foremost, EDUCATORS regardless of if we have masks on or off.

6 Ways Teachers Can Integrate Social-Emotional Learning

Social-emotional learning is vital; it gives students an essential life skill. These skills include building confidence, making decisions, connecting in social situations, working with others, understanding their own abilities, and improving relationships.

Social-emotional learning is important to help boost emotional intelligence. Unfortunately, this aspect of learning is often neglected in favor of academic subjects.

There are ways to embed these skills into your existing teaching so they’re not forgotten. These six methods work in the classroom but you can also use them with distance learning.

Read on to learn how to use social-emotional learning in your teaching.

1. Let Students Practice Problem Solving

When students have problems, it can be tempting to try and solve them straight away. Teachers often jump in to give children the answer so they don’t get frustrated and give up.

Yet encountering problems provides an opportunity to put social-emotional learning into practice. Let the students figure out how to find an answer before you step in.

A great piece of teaching advice is to introduce the Brain, Book, Buddy, and Boss system. This is a simple approach that also teaches students to be independent learners.


First, the student should think about the problem. What solutions come to mind? They might use mind maps at this stage. This also helps them to process any frustration so they can manage their emotions.


Does the student need to look up the answer? They might access books or digital sources at this point to solve the problem.


Can they solve the problem with the help of a friend or classmate? This is an excellent chance for them to practice working with others.


Finally, if they haven’t solved it by now, they can come to you. Often, students will solve their problems during the first three stages. If they come to you ask, “Have you looked, asked, and then tried with a friend?”

This approach is a great way to build motivation in your students. It goes beyond their grades and addresses how they tackle their learning.

2. Use Journal Writing Every Day

Various studies have shown the health benefits of daily journaling. This practice is also a great alternative teaching method for social-emotional learning.

Choose a point in the day for independent writing, and either offer or ask students for a journal prompt. Use a separate social-emotional learning notebook if you can.

You can tie this activity to what they’re recent studies or projects. Before you move onto a new subject, ask them, “What was your biggest challenge for this task? How might you overcome that?” “When did you feel accomplished and why?”

Other prompts might help them explore what they learned and how they approached their work. This gives them the chance to review their learning but also practice their SEL skills.

Let the children discuss these prompts with their classmates. Their classmates can offer new perspectives or insights.

Your students can practice their writing skills while sharing sentiments with others. With practice, children become more willing to reveal their emotions and show their vulnerability. They also celebrate their achievements.

Use Journals to highlight the emotions expressed by others

As an extra activity, pose questions during specific subjects. If you’re reading a book, start discussions about how characters might feel. Prompt students to examine possible thoughts the characters might have and the actions feelings might prompt.

You can also use this when considering historical figures. It’s an excellent way to promote SEL awareness and empathy. This also helps children understand the feelings and thoughts of others.

You can add other forms of journaling into your teaching day. These approaches are great at helping students sharpen their awareness skills, get their thoughts in order, and label their emotions.

3. Use Group Work

Group work gets students to practice their social-emotional learning. It teaches them that they don’t need to be able to do everything on their own and that two or more heads are often better than one.

Using group tasks also teaches children how to work with others. Appoint leaders in each group who must further delegate tasks to others. This helps students pinpoint their ability to bring out the best in others. Can they inspire and be inspired by others?.

It’s a great way to teach students to take personal and collective responsibility. Also, group work lets you embed multisensory teaching into your approach.

4. Hold Class Meetings

Building a community in your classroom is a vital way to use SEL strategies on a regular basis. Holding meetings with the students is a simple way to do this.

You might have a short meeting every morning as a warm-up for the day. Or you may hold them once a week. You might break in the middle of the day and ask students to think about how things are going and what interactions lead to a feeling of accomplishment. 

Use these meetings to highlight progress, solve problems, or plan activities. Introduce various processes so children begin to differentiate their approach to learning.

It’s also an opportunity for you. Becoming a better teacher means knowing you don’t need to have all the answers. Let your students take the lead; let them crowdsource answers from each other.

Begin tomorrow by greeting your students at the classroom door and say goodbye to each at the end of the day. Ask them how their day is going/has gone. This is important,  it’s a human need to feel seen and acknowledged.

5. Model and Use Positive Self-Talk

Students are used to hearing a lot of negative self-talk. This is often present in their favorite video games and films, or even in their homes.

Negative self-talk can lead children to set low expectations or get frustrated with themselves. One way to combat this is to purposefully use positive self-talk.

Doing so provides a form of reassurance and self-soothing. This helps children manage their emotions and compose themselves in all situations.

Encourage your students to use positive self-talk when engaged in tasks. Model positive self-talk by speaking your thoughts and identifying your options out loud when dealing with the challenge.

6. Focus on a Growth Mindset

Teach your students the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset. Focus on the aspects of developing a growth mindset, and encourage students to adopt one.

This will make children more resilient and better able to cope with frustration. It can also help them to study harder, meet challenges, and achieve their goals.

One way to inspire a growth mindset is to ask your students to reflect on the work they’ve done. They can identify what they did well, but also what they would improve next time. This teaches them there is always space to grow and helps them to evaluate their own work. It often helps them overcome the need for perfection.

Embed Social-Emotional Learning in All Classroom Tasks

There are endless ways to embed social-emotional learning skills within your lessons. These six methods are easy to add to what you’re already doing.

They also layer well, so you can mix and match methods depending on your students. Adding these alternative teaching methods is as important as Math or English skills.

Karen is dedicated to building better learning environments that equip students with both education and life skills. For tips and mentorships, get in touch today.

Inspiring Students: 9 Ways to Support Your Student’s Creativity

Are you an educator who struggles with your creative students?

While some students are well-suited to the world of academia, others struggle. Their creativity is a gift, but it may cause them to feel under-stimulated and unfulfilled in a conventional classroom environment. 

Inspiring students to express themselves and learn in their own ways is part of your job. Are you up to the challenge?

If you’re ready to commit to improving your classroom, keep reading to learn all about how you can make your classroom friendlier to unconventional thinkers and encourage creativity.

1. Allow "Outside of the Box" Thinking

Depending on the age of the students you’re teaching, you may feel inclined to encourage only one way of thinking. The delivery of facts and figures is difficult and daunting. As a teacher, you know that students will have to think inside of the box most of the time. 

That said, by discouraging “outside of the box” thinking, you’re not doing your students any favors. 

Consider the following example. You’ve taught your students how to attack a math problem in a specific way. You’ve shown them step-by-step directions that should lead them to the correct answer.

One of your students finds the correct answer through a different method. Do you take points off?

If your answer is yes, you’re discouraging creativity. Part of inspiring students is showing them that their methods are valid, even if they’re unique or unconventional. 

Creativity is expected in the world of explorative ventures like writing or drawing. By allowing it in more “strict” fields, like math and science, you’re creating unique thinkers.

2. Encourage Independent Problem-Solving

Some children never develop good problem-solving skills because they have answers fed to them by teachers or other students.

It’s important to encourage students to collaborate (more on that later), but one of the best teaching strategies to encourage creativity is to incorporate independent problem-solving. 

Most children are blessed with some form of creativity. Their minds are still elastic and they tend to see things from unique perspectives. They can solve problems on their own if you give them the resources instead of the answers.

By expecting children to figure things out without too much help, you’re encouraging them to discover creative solutions and use their brains. You’ll be shocked by what these young thinkers come up with on their own!

3. Don't Discourage Doodles

Many teachers get frustrated when they notice a child who is doodling or writing non-academic things in the margins of their schoolwork. 

While it’s important that your students do all of their work, a student who is doodling while listening, thinking, or after their work is done should be encouraged, not discouraged. Doodling is often the first step on a child’s path toward being an artist. It’s often what leads to powerful stories, movies, and comics.

Even if the child never becomes a full-fledged artist, doodling can be a sign that this child processes information in a different way. Some children doodle while they think.

Some children doodle when they’re trying to stay focused, not because they’re distracted. Consider giving the child a separate sheet of paper for doodling and a place to save, maybe even display, their work. Let them know that their creativity alongside their schoolwork is important. 

4. Focus on Strengths

Speaking of allowing doodles, make sure that you teach to each student’s strengths.

This is difficult when you have many students. It requires flexibility and unique lesson plans. The extra effort will make a huge difference in each child’s life. 

There’s a saying that goes “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” While this quote is often misattributed to Einstein, it has some truth behind it. 

While all children are capable and you should encourage them to do things outside of their comfort zones, you also have to remember that some children have strengths that lie outside of traditional schoolwork.

When you notice that a child isn’t responding to the way that you’re teaching them, why not try something new? 

For example, let’s talk about book reports.

Some children love to write book reports. They’re good at analyzing texts and writing about their thoughts. Other children struggle with this, but this doesn’t mean they haven’t read the book or don’t have anything to say.

When you do a final project on a book, why not allow alternative methods? 

Students can make picture book summaries, short videos, powerpoints, and more. Each of these approaches can allow the child to show their understanding of the book. It enables them to work to their best ability. Grading students based on the expectations of conventional education instead of their strengths isn’t helpful. Here’s where you get to think outside the box.

5. Set Up a Flexible Classroom

What does your classroom layout look like? 

If you’re like many teachers, children are either in pods or individual desks. You may rearrange seats every so often, but overall, students remain in their own spots.

There are benefits to this. If you know that some students can’t work together or can’t stop talking to each other, it’s helpful to keep them apart. That said, is it really the best option?

Consider allowing a flexible seating plan when students are working together. 

By allowing flexibility, you’re encouraging students to collaborate and work together on tasks. They learn to get along and talk to each other (which is crucial for their social development). 

Encourage children to work with people with whom they’ve never worked before. This makes children think and interact in new ways.

Inspiring creativity by encouraging collaboration and communication is a wonderful way to incorporate unique thinking and problem-solving into the classroom. It also gives your students a level of independence that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

6. Hands-On Learning Matters

How many opportunities do your students have to engage in hands-on learning? 

Many children learn by doing or by engaging in unique experiences. While reading a book is good enough for some students, others will flex their creativity muscles when they have the opportunity to be more interactive with their lessons. 

Hands-on learning activities are often enriching, fun, and creative. You might have, readily available, manipulative, art supplies, or recycled materials. Consider a cadre of dress-up clothing, masks, and beads and baubles to embellish these items. Imagine the re-enactments and storytelling that might come alive. 

7. Create Unconventional Lesson Plans

Speaking of hands-on learning, it’s your job as an educator to create unique and unconventional lesson plans to support and encourage creative students. 

Lecturing or reading to students is easy. For new teachers, this is often the most obvious way to adapt to a teaching environment. That said, these approaches aren’t simulating for creative children. 

Consider adding unique activities when you’re trying to spark creativity in your classroom. Put yourself in the mind of a student: What would you like to do if you were them? 

Sometimes the best lesson plans involve field trips, even if they’re small. You don’t need an expensive or well-planned trip to stretch a student’s mind in new ways.

Can’t take them out of the classroom? Bring the field trip to them by inviting local community members, experts, and hobbyists to visit your classroom and share their knowledge. You might even encourage a joint project with a school around the world or in a neighboring town. 

If you’re teaching a science lesson, why not make it into a scavenger hunt? Take children on a nature walk and have them locate local flora and fauna.

You can also create a classroom garden. Have children decorate their own pots and give them seeds to nurture and take care of. This shows them the life cycles of plants in real-time. 

When it comes to teaching literature, consider using short plays or others engaging multi-sensory activities to teach the children and encourage their creativity. Let them make small costume accessories and work together to put on brief “shows” for the rest of the class. 

By teaching in unconventional ways, you’re making students think in unconventional ways. 

8. Use Visual Aids

If you want your children to feel confident when they’re expressing their creativity, consider using more visual aids in the classroom.

Most assignments in conventional classrooms aren’t stimulating. They may cause students to feel bored and uninspired. By adding examples and items to handle, manipulate, and examine more closely you may spark some creative responses.

Better yet, allow your students to help create these visual aids. Let them consider the topic you are introducing, do some research prior to your delivery, and create the materials that you’ll use while delivering your lesson plan. 

This gives children more autonomy and responsibility and lets them flex their creativity muscles. 

9. Follow Your Students' Lead

When you’re not sure how to support students who need more creative education strategies, try to follow their lead.

You can’t put children in charge of their education, but you can watch them learn what they need. A lot of the teaching process is trial and error, so test out new strategies with your creative students and see what works best for them. 

While it may seem silly, consider asking your students what they would like to see in your classroom. It’s possible that students will write down silly things, like extra recess or pizza parties, but many will share ideas that are useful to you. Ask them how they best learn.

Inspiring Students: It Starts With You

Inspiring students is one of the best and most fulfilling aspects of being an educator. You’re molding and shaping young minds and preparing these children for the real world.

While academic education is important, supporting creative students and encouraging their creativity (instead of trying to tame it) will change their lives and outlooks. You might be helping a future creator. 

Are you ready to make some much-needed changes to your teaching strategies and educational style? Why not pursue new and unconventional possibilities

Karen Guiffre is committed to fostering positive learning environments for all students. For tips and mentorships, get in touch today.