Welcome to post #4 in the Engaging Kids in the Classroom through Learning Styles series. Today, we’ll be discussing the visual learner.
The visual learner loves to see what he is learning, especially when the visual includes pictures or moving images. This is a pretty natural learning style for most teachers to teach to– we usually love writing on boards and making posters. Of course, there’s always room to step it up a notch. Something as simple as writing in multiple colors of markers on the board (I use this set) can help a visual learner stay engaged and excited about the material.
I am a visual learner, so I love checking out charts and visuals of all kinds. Once, I had a professor in college who was a notoriously fast teacher. He could teach circles around the Old Testament prophets before I even got a chance to write the date on my notebook. At the start of one course, he passed out note cards and asked if there was anything he should know about us as students. I wrote, “I am a visual learner and would appreciate you writing notes on the board as you talked.” Amazingly, he complied with my request, slowing his teaching speed way down and keeping my head from spinning!
For the sake of your students, I hope you’re not as fast of a talker as my professor. Even if you are, there are plenty of ways you can keep the visual learner from getting lost. Check out a few ideas below.
In Your Weekly Routine
“What’s Next?” Chart: Kids love to know “what’s going to happen next” and this frequently asked question often serves as a major interruption to whatever is currently happening. Curb the “what’s next” question and add some color to your room by making a schedule or routine chart. There seems to be an infinite number of ways to create such a chart — just browse around online for one that works for you (I personally love Pinterest for type of thing).
Big Picture Chart: This idea is adapted from the Rainbows within Reach Blog. The Big Picture chart displays “Last Week’s Lesson”, “Today’s Lesson” and “Next Week’s Lesson”. Reviewing this chart each week is a great way to refresh your students’ memory and prepare them for what is ahead.
Stickers: Visual learners love to see smiley faces and stars on their papers at the end of the day. Keep a stash of stickers in your classroom and distribute at will!
Pictures! Pictures! Pictures! Whenever possible, use pictures or illustrations while you are teaching. You can introduce a lesson with a single picture (such as a Bible-times water well) and ask kids to guess what the lesson is about (Woman at the Well). While teaching the actual lesson, try to use an illustrated kids Bible or show clip art for key points in the lesson. Christian Clip Arts has a great selection of Bible-themed clipart and they add to the collection weekly.
You could even make your own pictures by drawing on the marker board as you teach. Once, we did a series called “Really Bad Pictures from the Bible”. During this series, I would (very poorly) draw pictures from the day’s lesson as I talked. (Kind of like a chalk talk only minus the artistic talent). By the end of the unit, things started to get a little rowdy because the kids were constantly asking me to edit the pictures, but it certainly kept them engaged!
Puzzles: Cutting up a coordinating coloring page and turning it into a puzzle for the kids is a great way to reach both visual and logical learners!
Video Clips: If you have projector capabilities, using short video clips is a great way to engage both visual and auditory learners. Most kids love to watch a short video and it’s a great way to introduce, review a story or provide support for different points in your outline. Max7 has some great youtube videos – be sure to check out their “Parable of the Soils” video. What’s in the Bible has some great intro videos for Bible stories available on youtube. Using popular movies is also a big hit – once we used clips from The Lion King throughout the lesson time to illustrate what it means to be “two-faced”. The kids loved it!
With Classroom Decorations and Displays
Books of the Bible Charts: This is a great visual to have up in the classroom at all times. Not only will it help kids to find a particular reference during lesson time, it will also familiarize them with other books of the Bible at the same time. Be sure to switch out charts every quarter or so to keep things fresh.
Do and Do Not Charts: Displaying pictures of acceptable and unacceptable behavior is a great way to let newcomers know about classroom expectations and it is easy for a teacher to remind a regular attender about the rules (just point to the chart!).
Bible Timeline Chart: Kids of all learning styles will love exploring a Bible timeline chart designed especially for kids. Point out the lesson on the timeline each week to help kids see where it fits into the Big God Story.
Kid Art: If kids draw a picture of the lesson or color a page, be sure to hang some up for display in the classroom.
That’s it for now – hope you found it helpful!