We all experience the world through our senses. Some seem to make more sense than others.
Physically, we have five senses that help us make sense of the world. Howard Gardner suggests we have at least eight (if not nine) multiple intelligences that help us process the information from those physical senses. Sometimes, in our Christian culture, we tend to focus on select ways in experiencing God. In many settings, we rely on visual and auditory senses in our experiences with God (e.g. singing songs, hearing a sermon, reading a Bible). However, for many students, it’s harder to experience God and learn from him if they’re relying just on those methods.
Here are some suggestions for now we could expand sensory experiences so we can reach a broader range of students:
- Encourage people to use multiple senses at the same time. For example, have someone read the passage out loud while others are follow along either in their own Bibles or by watching projected words/images.
- Place other visual cues outside of the regular parameters e.g. If you’re singing the song “White Flag”, have a flag brought into the middle of the room or draping above. If you’re speaking on Matthew 5:14-16, dim the house lights and have a solo light shining as you’re referencing that passage.
- Use appropriate scents e.g. If you’re leading through different aspects of prayer, light a specific scented candle so students can associate that smell with that particular prayer theme (and perhaps even pray for that item the next time they smell that scent). Note: Always be cautious with scents as many individuals have a high sensitivity to smell.
- Broaden the repertoire of movements. This doesn’t mean just move more. Rather, broaden the contrast of the movements naturally involved in an activity e.g. If you want studentsto sit for a minute in silence, encourage them to do some deep breathing exercises to heighten that moment of silence. Conversely, if you’re doing a Bible study, suggest to those students who are inclined to drawing or doodling that they go ahead and draw/doodle during the Bible study. The entire group may enjoy the results if the students wish to share.
- Reset the scene. The environment impacts the effectiveness of the learning so try to move to different locations to help students remember or get more out of the lesson. If you’re using the same room most of the time, change up the visual elements in the room to “set the scene”.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. What ways do you increase the sensory experience of your students?