A Journey through the Senses

by Ruth Sánchez Lantigua

Teaching with hands-on activities is a great way for students to internalize knowledge and also enjoy the learning experience. Especially when it comes to learning a foreign language that kids might not use outside of school or even the English class. A great opportunity presented itself when we had to learn about the senses! Vocabulary was not going to be enough, it was better for them to go through the senses in different activities they could have fun with, while also learning the vocabulary and application of it during the class.

At first they were introduced slowly to what the senses where, although the fact that they were reviewing the same topic in Spanish helped a lot for them to be able to connect these activities to some of their previous knowledge; this is something that is very important when learning a language and is recommended in many methodologies. Even when they did not fully understand some things, with the use of TPR (Total Physical Response) they had a better chance of getting it. Some of the activities they enjoyed were: playing with salt in Kinder, they had to draw shapes and vowels previously learned with their fingers as a review, but also for them to experience the sense of touch and how salt felt. Another one, this time in Pre-Primario, that kids really liked, was being blindfolded and listening to the teacher give instructions about what to draw, this one really caused a case of the giggles because of their level of excitement!

Students in Pre-Primario also experienced tracing their names with glue and then using gelatin powder and seeing what happened as opposed to Kinder, who had to trace a rectangle with the same materials. They really loved that one! This was to explore and develop the senses of touch and taste, and adding to that the sense of smell, while having fun. On the other hand, there was reinforcement of the names of the five most common senses by tracing them and identifying the part of the body they are each connected to, also by drawing them and talking about them.

All in all, a more in depth cognitive process took place because of activities implemented in a search for integrating the senses and also some of the basic skills for learning a language, in this case English: listening, reading (in a minor scale), writing and speaking. Several levels of achievement were accomplished, which is what we want to foster in our students from early on. And the best part was their involvement and enthusiasm for taking part in the process.

In our classroom we hold these kinds of activities so kids get motivated and interested in learning the language, it is of paramount importance to us. Meaningful learning takes place when the learner are inspired and enthusiastic about  the process. Our school, San Judas Tadeo, delights in exposing our kids to realia and different contexts through which they can learn.