A Hatful of
Tricks Tips for Teaching Visual Learners
Let’s face it, most of us are time poor and we want to accomplish our goals in the shortest available time. If only we could wave a magic wand or pull a teaching tip out of a hat.
Well today is your lucky day.
Teachers and homeschooling parents are always on the lookout for fresh ideas to help their students in the most useful and successful way. Every child learns differently and in a classroom or small group, many of the children will have their own style of learning. There are many different learning styles and rather than cover all of them at once, we are going to talk about just one of them today, the visual/spatial learner.
Teachers and homeschooling parents (and tutors) need ideas fast. Once you collect your ideas, you are only limited by your imagination as to how you adapt the ideas to suit your students.
First of all, let’s identify some common characteristics of visual/spatial learners:
- are students who think in images, colours and shapes. They learn best through activities involving visualisation and interpret visual texts more easily than words
- generally have a better developed sense of space than time
- usually display daydreaming tendencies
- are commonly skilled at making models
- often forget what they hear, but successfully remember what they see
- relish using a variety of craft materials, enjoy visual puzzles, board games and playing with building blocks
- like to design, watch movies, and interpret images
- can be very imaginative and often find solutions to problems
- are usually attuned to the concept of the mind’s eye and can picture ideas like movies inside their heads
- learn words and the correct spelling of words best after seeing them written down
- often doodle on, over or around their work. I’m guessing that as you read through the list, you were able to identify some of your visual/spatial students.
I’m guessing that as you read through the list, you were able to identify some of your visual/spatial students.
In today’s classrooms, teachers are expected to include and show ways they accommodate for different styles of learning; demonstrate modification of their planning for students who are challenged in certain areas in their learning situations or need to be challenged and extended. A lot of careful thought and planning needs to be taken into consideration.
It’s handy to have some teaching tips right at our fingertips so we can build upon and incorporate ideas into our planning.
Useful Resources for the Visual/Spatial Learner include:
- Young students especially love flashcards, but the beauty of flashcards is that they work for all ages of students, even adults. Check out this link to brilliant three-year old, Brielle, who appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show sometime back who not only knows the periodic table, but all the States of America, the countries in Europe and Africa and the Presidents of the United States. Click here to see three-year old Brielle in action. Flashcards are a fantastic and versatile way to learn, review and test a child’s knowledge in readiness for tests. You can even incorporate them into games and we all know children love games. When they are playing games, most don’t even know they are learning. You can find many ideas on PINTEREST or make your own.
- Word games and word puzzles are also very useful. When engaged with using these types of games and puzzles, visual/spatial learners relate well to the written words. Seeing words written down makes it easier for this style of learner to digest. Crosswords, Word Searches and Mazes work well for this learning style. Another way to fast track learning of the written word is to highlight and use colour in appropriate places. One example for learning spelling springs to mind – using colour to show syllables breaks and word endings, first letters and end letters:
ad/ven/ture – ‘ / ’ indicates each syllable break
ska/ting – the different colours highlight the relationship or operation of the letters and syllable work inside each word.
- Games such as Pictionary, Memory and Hangman use pictures and are often well received by the visual/spatial learner. You can always be creative and make your own illustrated games using pictures from magazines as an alternative that will best suit the level of your students.
- Comics and Cartoons are fun ways to engage the visual/spatial learner. Students can brainstorm and create their own cartoon or comic strips, or you can blot out the speech bubble content of ready made comic strips, photocopy and distribute for students to fill in their own dialogue.
- Graphic Organisers such as Venn Diagrams and sequence charts are great tools for visual/spatial learners to collect and organise their ideas and words. These organisers help students to gather their thoughts, and ensure they remain clear and easy to remember. This enables the student to confidently share their points with others.
- Videos and movies help the visual/spatial learner to quickly understand concepts. Avoid relying heavily on audio. These learners need visual. Today, students LOVE their APPS and there are now many great APPS to help with students’ lessons in most subject areas.
- Demonstrations and modeling are great ways to help visual/spatial learners intellectualise learning concepts.
- Interactive whiteboards, or regular whiteboards are useful tools for helping get your message across to a visual/spatial learner.
- It’s important to write down instructions to help visual/spatial learners decipher.
HOT TIP – a helpful tip I used when teaching full time…
At the start of the day I always wrote down an agenda, including the time, for the day’s classes and events. This small action helps all students, not just visual/spatial students, know the system for the day. It’s a great tool for helping students stay organised and to help with time management. This leads to self-management and a lot of students start to show initiative when they know what to expect. They operate in their comfort zone and boundaries of the day’s activities.
- Illustrated text, such as picture books, illustrated chapter books and non-fiction books with photographs are best to use to help the visual/spatial learner connect with their studies. There are some great graphic novels you can find in the library, or purchase, that will captivate these students, including Shaun Tan’s, The Arrival. Students discover through this silent graphic novel the plight of immigration, refugees and displaced persons. Filled with emotion in every illustration, it is a brilliant tribute to those who have made the journey.
Sometimes students can feel like displaced people in their own classrooms if their learning styles are not catered for. It is the responsibility of the educator to ensure each and every student is on an even classroom platform. Most teachers I know do this, and do it well.
However, if you are a beginner teacher or homeschool parent, or a parent who recognises they have a visual/spatial learner at home and you need some ideas … fast, then I hope this post was helpful.
If you have read this post and identified your child as a visual/spatial learner, and you would like help with some personal tutoring or advice, Shadytree Books offers a tutoring service for Prep to Year 6 students in English, literacy, spelling, grammar, homework or extension work. We cater to all students with all learning styles. Once a student signs up, we have a quick and pain free assessment to help us learn fast what your student’s learning style is and how best we can help them.
Shadytree Books also offers children’s creative writing workshops and art workshops for our budding creatives out there. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact Deb here or write to her in the comments at the end of this post. At the moment we are taking expressions of interest for workshops and we have spaces available for tutoring.
If you are homeschooling and would like some ideas on how to help your child/ren with English, structured/formalised writing, creative writing, poetry or would like some information regarding short story or poetry writing competitions, then contact Deb.
Shadytree Books is a site where it is hoped to cultivate a community of people who like to share. So, if you have some ideas that have worked for you in the past for your visual/spatial students, please feel free to share. You never know, your idea or tip just might spark something in someone who is struggling. I know I’d love to hear your feedback.
Until next time,
Happy creating …
Author: Debbie Smith
Debbie Smith is the author of a number of children’s short stories, poetry, picture books texts and is currently working on her first MG (middle-grade) novel, Hampton Common. She also writes for adults and has written the first draft of her adult outback novel, Lanolin on the Boards. Her debut children’s picture book, If You Meet an Elephant, is COMING SOON in 2019. Read about it here.
Debbie is the Founder and Creative Director of Shadytree Books. She tutors students in the Language Arts and Literacy areas, coordinates and runs Children’s Creative Writing and Art workshops for Shadytree Books’ StoryArts Holiday Program.
Debbie lives on the gorgeous Sunshine Coast near the lovely beaches of Noosa and it’s rich Hinterland life with her husband and gorgeous Cavoodle, Oscar. When Debbie takes time away from writing, she can be found at the farm riding her daughter’s Lippizaner horse, Obie, and handling and ground training her yearling Appaloosa foal, Joey.