Top tools to support multisensory learning in your classroom

Natasha Thomas is an IXL Professional Learning Specialist with over 5 years experience as a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities teacher and curriculum developer.

As teachers, we’re constantly striving to make our classroom instruction as effective and efficient as possible. 

One learning concept that can have a significant impact on student progress across different age groups is multisensory learning. The idea behind multisensory learning is that when students’ senses are engaged through visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile activities, learners can activate multiple areas of their brains and strengthen their retention. 

Educators can support multisensory learning instruction with many of the tools built right into IXL! Below, we’ve gathered some of our favorites to help you incorporate auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic components into your daily teaching. 

Auditory: Extended audio

With IXL’s audio support feature, students can click the speaker icon to hear IXL questions and explanations read aloud to them. IXL’s extended audio support is available for math skills through 8th grade, and for English language arts, science, and social studies skills through 5th grade. Teachers can enable this extended audio support through their profile settings. When students use this audio support, the additional sensory information going to their brains helps to embed key knowledge faster.

Visual and auditory: Video tutorials

When working on math skills from 3rd grade through Geometry, students have the option of watching a video tutorial to walk them through the specific concepts within the skill. These videos are engaging, visually stimulating, and varied to capture students’ sensory attention and support their learning. To watch the tutorials, students can click the “Watch a video” button at the top of the IXL skill they’re practicing.

Visual and tactile: Varying question and answer styles

As they work on IXL, students encounter a wide variety of question and answer styles that make their learning experience dynamic, fresh, and engaging. For example, IXL’s drag and drop questions engage both visual and tactile senses, and touch typing questions challenge students to retain information while strengthening muscle memory. These intriguing variations, paired with vibrant colors and available audio support, ensure that students are given the best opportunity to learn and remember valuable material.

Tactile: Scratchpad

While working on IXL skills, students can use the IXL scratchpad to engage their tactile and visual senses. By clicking on the pencil icon at the bottom right of a skill, students can access writing tools to help them work out problems right on their screen. The pen can be used to write, draw, or demonstrate their knowledge as they practice skills. Or, they can use the highlighter tool as a visual aid to focus on key question information, which is a fundamental test prep skill for older learners. Scratchpad is available on the IXL website and mobile app, so students can use their fingers or a stylus to write notes, just like pen and paper!

Kinesthetic: Group Jam

Group Jam is a great addition to a multisensory environment, and a favorite among students and teachers! Students can work in small groups or as a whole class to answer the same exact IXL questions at the same time. Group Jams allow for discussion and verbal teaching, both of which are incredibly interactive and engage multiple senses. Teachers can start a Group Jam from the “Engagement Tools” section of the “My IXL” tab, or directly from any IXL skill. They can even create specific Group Jams based on student needs from the Trouble Spots report!

Visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile: Games

IXL’s math and English language arts games for Pre-K through 5th grade are jam-packed with visual, auditory and motion elements. The games are a valuable resource for an inclusive, multisensory classroom and will support teachers in reinforcing learning concepts through the sensory wonder of gamification. Students can play through a variety of game types, from solo adventure puzzles to competitive typing games, to help them interact with key skills in new ways. Access to games can be toggled on and off through your teacher profile settings, and students can explore games through the dedicated game pages for each grade.

Each student learns in different ways, and by providing a rich variety of multisensory experiences in your classroom, you can help every student achieve success. When planning your lessons, take advantage of the many tools IXL offers that can easily help to make any activity a multisensory one!