MyloWrites had the wonderful opportunity to attend a creative writing / storytelling class hosted by Playable Design in Beijing, China. Playable Design uses LEGO bricks at the core of a creative multi-sensory learning process.
As we know, all people learn new skills and concepts through different modalities and learning styles. Each of us employs multiple learning styles and strategies, and are stronger in some modalities than others. Be it visual, auditory, tactile (touch), or kinesthetic (movement), various methods activate different parts of the brain. Have you ever danced in mathematics, or sung a song in science? If you have, then you know a bit about multi-sensory learning.
Playable Design's curriculum spans from numbers and spacial awareness, to creative writing and story telling. The class we attended was creative writing / storytelling geared for ages 6 to 10 years. Through the use of LEGO props and prompts, and specially developed Playable Design flash cards (displaying images of activities, places and people), children were inspired to create and write stories.
The class started with each student selecting a simple prebuilt LEGO structure, a random Playable Design flash card, and a LEGO accessory. This combination of props were the genesis of idea gathering for story telling and creative writing.
With these three props in hand, each child created a sentence using all three components; the pre-built LEGO object, an image from the flash card, and the LEGO accessory. Using these visual prompts helped students to generate ideas for a creative writing piece, which could otherwise have been a daunting and anxiety producing task for many students.
Once the sentence was developed and written, the child then proceeded to build out a physical representation with the LEGO bricks. This process supported further generation of story details and the development of additional thoughts and ideas. These ideas were then turned into sentences and ultimately, depending on the age of the child, into a paragraph length scene or story. Success!
Children have so much to say, however natural differences in cognitive functioning may limit their ability to translate a thought into a sentence. Playable Design's multi sensory, prop and prompt driven approach immediately relieves the anxiety a child may experience, and allows for a alternative learning strategy to support the creative writing process. Active participation, especially for young learners, is a key part of this successful approach.
Exposure to multi-sensory learning helps students discover learning strategies and techniques that are best suited for their individual brain. Understanding and honing the learning strengths that best fit an individual is key to improving achievement and the acquisition of information.
Multi-sensory learning provides more pathways for understanding new information, greater capacity to remember it and more ways to recall it later. Children with learning differences typically have difficulty absorbing new information, especially if it is abstract or involves memorizing sequences or steps. Multi-sensory teaching techniques help break down these barriers to learning by making the abstract more accessible, turning lists or sequences into movements, sights and sounds.
In our continued quest to broaden the awareness of learning differences, MyloWrites is always looking for ways in which different organizations incorporate and support multi-sensory learning. In the end, multi sensory learning is more fun, works well for every learner, and should be part of every teacher's curriculum. This creative kind of teaching doesn't have to be unorthodox, but it definitely goes beyond the traditional approach to education that relies almost exclusively on visual (reading text) and auditory (listening to the teacher talk) presentation of information.