Teaching Kids The Way They Learn Best
By Butch Hunter
There are four main learning styles we will be looking at.
Auditory – listening
Visual – seeing
Tactile – touching
Kinesthetic – doing
Auditory: These learners grasp information best through hearing, but will completely understand it when they can explain it or repeat it back. Putting things to music will enhance the retention of information also.
Learn 50% by listening, the other 50% is by repeating or talking things through.
Love tons of auditory stimulation
Love to talk- most times describing things in detail.
Likes to talk or sing even if no one is listening
Example of Auditory learning:
Echo back memory verse.
Wonderful Books Of The Bible song (worshipforkids.com)
Visual: These learners process information through visual experiences. They are always looking for something new or trying to discover something they haven’t seen before.
Need to see something to understand it.
Most times they will look up as they start to talk. They are visualizing what they are talking about.
They like to take notes.
They need quiet times to concentrate.
Can digest a large amounts of information when presented in graphs, pictures, charts, ect.
Example of visual learning:
Bible lesson with video
We use iMove and royalty free music from iMove in the background– our effects we apply are ken burns. (pictures used are available at Eikonbibleart.com)
The awesome part of doing lessons this way is that you are teaching to primarily the visual learner, but you also are adding a touch of auditory to it too. The added bonus is that you will keep the kinesthetic learner engaged with all that is going on at once.
Posters are great tool to use, and in our Heart Shapers curriculum you have a wide variety of choices of preprinted posters to use. Most time you have a new one for each month.
Draw the story on a white board. Draw even if you don’t have talent. Stick figures work just fine.
Tactile: these learners need to feel or touch to bring home concepts. They are the ones playing with something in their hands while you are teaching the lesson. Try Fidget Buddies or stress balls, even Play-do will keep them engaged
Loves hands-on learning.
Touching and feeling will them process information.
Hands are always moving.
Manipulative are a great tool.
Doodling or highlighting can help with concentration on material that is being presented.
Example of Tactile learning:
Have kids mold or sculpt parts of the lessons. For these learners, it’s just enough to have something in their hands as the lesson is being presented.
Use a water table if you have one to use, if not a dish basin will work just as well. Tell the story and let the kids use action figures to act out the story. With water, Jonah and the fish will work or Jesus walking on water.
You could use this for a lesson on baptism or the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus. These learners will grab the confetti and hold it through the lesson and crumple it in their hands. They need to be touching and feeling and this provides that opportunity to connect them to the lesson.
Kinesthetic: These learners need to be experiencing what is being presented in a hands- on environment. Acting and doing actions help solidify the concepts presented. Hands-on games will be a home run with these learners.
Need to move to learn.
Learn best by touching or interacting with something.
May seem hyperactive when they are not engaged or involved in hands on learning.
They need to experience first-hand what is being taught.
Example of Kinesthetic learning:
Act out the story.
Drama. Keep it simple. Use the resources you have in the class or at home. If you want to be adventurous, go to places you can get free stuff. Like Burger King crowns. Use your imagination and think where you can gather stuff to enhance your lesson inexpensively or even FREE!
Use key word actions.
This is always fun whatever the story is being used. All you do in pick a key word that will be repeated in your story and assign an action to it. So if you were telling the story of the talents, every time you say the word master or talent have the kids raise their hands in the air and bring them down to their waist and say Cha-Ching! This is fun, and you can use this technique on the fly. So, if kids are not connecting try this.
Use games to illustrate lesson.
We use a variety of games to help kids understand a lesson. One that we have used on “Focusing” involves trashcans and Nerf footballs.
Kids have to get into teams and stand in line. The object is to accurately toss the ball into the trash can. If they make it in, they will receive an envelope with a puzzle piece that they will have to put together with their group leader after attaining all the pieces. The puzzle is the verse for the day, i.e. Proverbs 4:25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.
Then the leader will facilitate them in a discussion on what we need to focus on.
What kind of learner are you?
Follow the instructions and total up your responses to see what your highest learning style is.
If we look through God’s word, we can see Him using these learning styles through-out the entire Bible to reveal Himself to His people. Let’s see if you can pick out what style is being used to teach in these passages.
(Form teams and use A, B, C, D, cards to display styles on screen. Review- have them say it. Have one person from each group read verse of passage of scripture.)
Auditory – listening
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
Visual – seeing
On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there. 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”
10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored.
Tactile – touching
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Kinesthetic – doing
Jesus sends the 72 out to do what he has equipped them to do.
So how do we teach with all this in our classes or large group lessons?
This is where structuring an order of worship or class lesson plan is so important. You can strategically place different elements in you lesson to reach each learning styles. I want to take a moment and look at how we can structure this, or use a curriculum to achieve this. Most of classroom-based curriculums now take this into consideration.
Let’s look at a lesson from Standard Publishing’s Heart Shapers Curriculum.
With Heart Shaper, it divides up your lesson into easy manageable steps that keeps your planning simple. Each step gives you choices of what type of activity you would like to do. You can do one or all of them. This curriculum is extremely flexible without a bulk of extra material to wade through. Each point you can clearly define what learning style it will reach in your class. Not only is it helpful to the learning style, it’s fun and engaging for the kids we’re trying to reach for Christ.
Let’s look at simple sample large group/small group outline.
This is an order of worship that I use. This outline is just a template that I plug into what I want to do for that service. Having a template helps volunteers and kids know what to expect in your service. People like things to be predictable and constant and this will help with that. With minor adjustments, you can also use this template for a Jr. worship service too.
You can see from the template that you can carefully structure your service to incorporate all of the learning styles in a easy format.
We all like to have our service point back to the main point or scripture were using, so you build around that and incorporate the learning styles that will reach all of your students.
Worship songs: Choose songs that have to do with the aspect of the main point. In addition, use some songs that have motions and some that don’t.
Memory verse: Use with motions or catchy visuals to display the text.
Message: Use a variety use keywords, drama, visuals, video, music, ect.
Small Groups: Use hands-on object lessons or low-key games that don’t require major movement.
Hopefully, now you can recognize the different learning styles and customize your ministry to better reach your students God has entrusted you with.