Be Sensational: Engaging the Senses to Stimulate Learning

When students come to your classroom, you teach them to sit quietly and listen to the teacher. But how well can they absorb what they are being taught? Glenda leads a mini-class in which she demonstrates how engaging students’ senses empowers their learning.

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Ruth Anna: Be sensational.

Ruth Anna: Our kindergarten and first grade students come into our classroom and they have learned about the world primarily through touching, tasting, through experiences. Suddenly they are supposed to come to our classroom, they’re supposed to sit at the same desk. By the way you’re supposed to sit there and be quiet. And while you’re sitting there quietly, hands in your lap, I’m going to stand up here and tell you some things and you’re supposed to remember that. That is a foreign idea to them. They need to be using their senses—continue to use their senses as they’re discovering.

Ruth Anna: So you want to remember, yes, you want to teach skills of learning and focus and memorization. But bring taste into your classroom, bring touch. Especially bring movement into your classrooms. Allow them to be children. And Glenda’s going to show you a lot of ways that you can do this. She’s going to teach a little mini lesson here on the o sound. And I want you to think about this as you observe Glenda. How is she bringing movement in? How is she bringing touch or sight or hearing? How is being sensational in this lesson?

Glenda: This is my favorite part of my day, teaching a new sound, whatever it is. I just love this.

Glenda: I have this basket.

Glenda: How many of you have gone to the doctor before? Have you been to the doctor? Today we’re going to learn the sound that the doctor tells you to make when you open the mouth. He tells you to go o because he wants to see your tonsils back there. Can you say ‘ah?’ Good. Can you do it again? O. Good job.

Glenda: Okay, can you think of anything in this basket that starts with o? What starts with o? You think I have an ostrich in here?

Student: Well, Aunt Ruth Anna told me.

Glenda: Ah. Let me see if I can get the ostrich. Let’s see if the mama ostrich is awake.

Glenda: Sure enough, the the mama ostrich is awake. Last night I was putting the mama ostrich to bed, and she said, “My tummy hurts.” And I said, “Well, I’ll give you some Tums and then you’ll feel better.” She said “But it really hurts.” So I gave her two Tums. I said “Go to sleep, you’ll feel better.” So I went to bed and slept and when I got up and I checked on her, guess what I found? I found a baby ostrich, that’s why her tummy was so owie. And now it feels better.

Glenda: Do you wanna hold the baby ostrich? Do you wanna hold the mama ostrich?

Glenda: What else do you think I have in here? Starts with o. That’s kind of hard.

Student: Octopus?

Glenda: The octopus? An octopus. Sure enough, there’s an octopus in here! He says, “Good morning, how are you?”

Glenda: O, octopus, can you say that?

Glenda: O, octopus, wow. Octopus.

Student: He don’t have an eye!

Glenda: Now look at this card. The o is sitting on top of the octopus. Can you see that? Well, let’s see.

Glenda: The octopus had twins. And they’re not identical. This twin, he has had so many scrapes and scratches. He has Band-Aids on him. Kinda owie, but he feels better. Let’s see what the other twin looks like. They were in the hospital. Here the o? Hospital. This one broke one of his tentacles. He has lots of arms and he uses them all the time. But it’s getting better.

Glenda: How many of you have eaten real live octopus? I ate a baby octopus one time. And it tasted kind of rubbery. So it didn’t really have much taste, I just quickly ate it.

Glenda: Okay, there’s something else down here. When you go to the hospital, sometimes the doctor has to do this. He has to have an o on you. Operation. Right.

Glenda: Here are some things to have an operation. And when you get done with your work, you can have an operation on each other. And fix each other’s ouchies. That will be fun. But don’t rush through your work.

Glenda: When you go to church, there’s this man that comes around. He’s called the usher. And your dad puts something in a basket. Do you know what that’s called? The o… Offering. Say o-o-offering.

Glenda: So I’m going to give you some offering to put in this basket. And here is the o. You can touch the o when you get it. Put your finger around it, see how it feels. What shape is the o? That’ a circle shape. You can put this in the offering.

Glenda: Now we’re going to sing a little song to pass the offering, and I’ll have everybody help us.

Group: (Singing) “Dropping, dropping, dropping, hear the o’s fall. Everyone for Jesus, he will have them all.”

Glenda: Okay, good job. Now I want you to say the o again, and I will use this tentacle, and look in your mouth, is going to be flashlight. Okay, say, o.

Glenda: Good. I can see a tonsil. Oh, good job. Wow. Good.

Glenda: Now there’s a little line that goes with the o. Octopus. It goes like this. It’s “O, o, o, octopus. He has too many arms for us.” He has lots of arms. Okay, we’ll get everybody to do that all together.

Glenda: Why don’t we all stand, and be careful, don’t whack your neighbor with your tentacles.

Glenda: OK, o, o, o, ready? O, o, o, octopus. He has too many arms for us.

Glenda: Now did you know that the o has a secret? He has a secret. I’ll show you.

Glenda: Okay, watch how I make the o. The o lives in the upstairs and the downstairs. He lives in houses just like we do. So we start with the upstairs. He sleeps in the upstairs. And he comes downstairs for breakfast, and then he forgot some of his school books, so he runs back upstairs. Can you tell where I started?

Glenda: So what if I make another o and you can tell me where I started? Uh-oh, o does not have a secret. Right? Now I’m going to make some more and you tell me if I’m making the o right. If they’re on the right lines.

Glenda: No. That’s not right, is it? See if I can do another. Is that right? Why not?

Glenda: It’s jumping up and down. But it has a secret. It’s not big enough, you’re right. Is that better? Okay.

Glenda: To the rest of you. Students love when you make letters wrong. They just beg for it everyday. They say, “Make the letters wrong.”

Glenda: You all get to practice making the o. Would you like to write the o in the sand? Would you like that?

Glenda: Here’s some sand. You can take your finger and make the o in there.

Glenda: Shake it real carefully so it doesn’t spill. Okay. Can you all say o together as we’re doing it? Ready? O-o-o. Good. I like your o. Do it one more time. O. Good job.

Glenda: This is a really easy way. Students love this sand. Just put some in containers and they love it.

Glenda: Now I wat you to stand. We’re going to do o in the air with your finger. Take your finger. Watch your finger and say o. Ready? O. Good. Now we’re going to draw on the carpet.

Glenda: So go down, put your finger on the carpet, and say o, o.

Glenda: Now, would you like to write with markers? On a little whiteboard? Okay, here’s the little whiteboard. Here’s your marker. And you can practice making the big O and the little o.

Glenda: The little o just lives downstairs. Okay? He’s too tiny to sleep upstairs. So say o as you’re writing it.

Glenda: That looks nice. O. It goes round in a circle. Put the markers back in here. Your board.

Glenda: Thank you. Oh, I forgot about these little erasers. These are facial pads. They’re wonderful.

Glenda: You can erase your o. Oh, you missed it…

Glenda: There. Nice and clean now. Now I want to hand some letters out again for you. And then I want you to listen for o in the middle of a word. That’s kind of tricky. We’re going to sing a little song. The rest of you are going to help us. It’s a short vowel song. So I’ll give you two, because they’re going to be hiding behind your back. When you sing the song. One in each hand, and put them behind your back, and they’re going to hide.

Glenda: Okay, I’ll just demonstrate, and then I’ll have the rest of you help me with it. You have two o’s in your hand, and I use these foam letters all the time. This starts, “Where is short o? Where is short o? Here I am. Here I am. I am in a hot pot, rocky top, and stop clock. O, o, o. O, o, o.”

Glenda: Is your o hiding? Okay, listen: hot pot. Can you hear the o in there? Yeah.

Group: “Where is short o? Where is short o? Here I am. Here I am. I am in a hot pot, rocky top, and stop clock. O, o, o. O, o, o.”

Ruth Anna: If you were a first grader, would you remember the o sound? Why?

Ruth Anna: So it’s the texture. You’re feeling it.

Ruth Anna: So they’re connecting it to what they’ve already experienced. Good point.

Ruth Anna: So did you think about all the movement throughout? It’s going to be really key too.

Ruth Anna: So just a couple things to keep in mind with that. Be sensational. Bring in touch, hearing, seeing, doing, even taste when you can. If you teach it in a sensational way, students will remember. You will save time and frustration in the long run.

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Teachers Week 2018
Publication Date: August 10, 2018
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