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Collaborate with Teachers To Develop Multi-Sensory Lessons - November 2007

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Collaborate with Teachers To Develop Multi-Sensory Lessons

By: Margaret Rice, Physical Therapist

Traditionally, a classroom lesson is delivered as verbal or written material. The student relies on auditory and/ or visual input to understand the concepts. The student is expected to sit for extended periods of time and remain on task. For many of the students who receive related services, this can be a frustrating method of comprehending academic material. If a student exhibits deficits in auditory or visual input, failure may ensue. On the other hand, if a teacher uses a multi-sensory approach to teaching material this student may succeed. A multi-sensory lesson allows for a student to learn using the various senses of the body instead of just auditory or visual. School based therapists can play a large role in helping teachers to incorporate additional sensory input such as tactile, proprioceptive, vestibular and motor skills when presenting academic material.

Occupational and physical therapists have a strong understanding of the large role that sensory input and sensory output plays in a student's life. By offering that expertise to teachers when planning lessons, all students receive the benefits of multi-sensory learning. In addition, the students who receive related services will be able to experience improved carry over of therapeutic interventions.

By employing multi-sensory strategies in the classroom, information is delivered to the brain from several sensory systems. This spreads the load on the brain over several systems which may result in improved memory. Students can improve problem solving skills and retain more information by touching, feeling and moving to learn a new concept When physical activity is included in the lesson plan, students are able to release energy, reduce stress, increase level of alertness and practice motor and coordination skills.

Here are some basic steps to follow when creating multi-sensory lessons.
  1. Infuse lessons with physical movement whenever possible including proprioceptive and vestibular activities.
  2. Offer suggestions that include tactile experiences for students such as Wikki Stix®, tactile paper, modeling clay and salt trays.
  3. Promote kinesthetic activities such as air writing to reinforce academic concepts.
  4. Encourage fine and gross motor activities to enhance the lesson. Provide manipulatives that promote fine motor skills. Offer suggestions on how to include gross motor skill practice such as jumping, hopping or skipping during the lesson.
  5. Include bilateral coordination activities to improve ability for students to cross midline.


When the lesson is complete, see if it includes sensory input from the following areas: auditory, visual, tactile, proprioceptive and vestibular. If all five categories are included, you have achieved an excellent multi-sensory lesson that will be most likely a benefit for all students.


This Month's Featured Vendor: Your Therapy Source

Special Thanks to Margaret Rice for providing an article for this issue's Therapy Corner.

Margaret Rice is a physical therapist who has authored many pediatric therapy resources. She is the owner of Your Therapy Source.

Please support our contributing authors and visit Your Therapy Source on the web at: http://www.YourTherapySource.com.


Tags: November 2007 Newsletter OT PT SLP Sensory Processing Disorder Special Education School Based Speech School Based OT School Based PT Gross Motor Skills Fine Motor Skills Sensory Motor Skills - Sensory Integration Proprioception