It has been shown through numerous studies that we learn through our five senses-the more we use, the more we remember. Take our sense of smell, for example. A smell from your distant past can unleash a flood of memories that are so intense and striking that they seem real. When you’re teaching a lesson, whether it be in Relief Society or in Primary, you can appeal to people’s senses in order to help them understand and remember your principles more effectively.
One of the biggest benefits you can use is a visual aid (which, of course, appeals to sight). You have probably heard the saying, “A picture says a thousand words.” But there is more to it than that. A picture helps set the tone of your lesson. It gets people guessing what your lesson will focus on, thereby setting up their minds for learning. Also, it helps with those that may have hearing problems or language barriers.
And there is more…it doesn’t have to be a picture. You have probably heard the term “an object lesson.” There is a reason why we use object lessons-because they help people learn more effectively.
Take the story of Christ who, when confronted by the Pharisees, asked Jesus whether it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar or God in order to trap Him into admitting His allegiance to the wrong authority. What was His response? He said to bring Him a coin and asked whose image was on it. What follows is the famous quote, “Render unto Caesar that which are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”
Indeed, one of the greatest object lessons of all time. Now think for yourself, what difference would it have made without the coin? When properly used, objects can have powerful effect on a lesson.
As for audio learners, be sure that you speak loudly enough for everyone to hear. Also, if someone makes a comment, make sure that the other side of the room was able to hear it as well.
Another suggestion is to listen to yourself. Does your tone fluctuate enough to make what you are saying interesting or is your voice rather monotone? If your answer is the latter, you may want to change things up a bit. And lastly, there may be times when your lesson could be enhanced through music-another powerful audio tool.
Now for touch…this one may require more effort on your part, but it is possible and can be used for any age. My suggestion is to use objects as symbols and pass them around during the lesson if and when appropriate as long as they don’t jeopardize the focus of the lesson.
An example of this may be a lesson on trials, in which you could pass around two stones, one rough and one smooth. Ask which one people like the feel of more. Tell the class that we may start out being a rough stone, but after trials and through faith in Christ, we can become smooth-easily rolling where we need to go and easier on the touch as well.
The last two, smell and taste, can often go together since much of our olfactory sense contributes to taste. Treats are always a big hit, but sometimes they can be more than just a parting favor. Get creative.
One time I gave out candies only to certain members of my Young Women’s class and asked them to taste them without showing the other members of the class what the candies were. I then asked them to describe what they were tasting in sufficient detail. I asked the other members of the class how they felt when they saw the other girls eating something. They said they were curious.
I asked them if they grew more envious of the other girls when they described what they were tasting. They replied that they did and that they wanted something sweet to eat as well. I then gave the girls I previously gave candy to more candy and asked them if they wanted to share the candy with those who didn’t have any or if they wanted to keep it for themselves. Of course they shared it with the others.
The lesson was on Lehi’s dream of tasting the sweet, white fruit and on sharing the Gospel. Others may not know what you have unless you tell them or show them. And once they are curious why you love it so much, you won’t want to keep it all to yourself, you will want to share it with others so that they may experience it too.