Teaching Visual Spatial Learners

‘A’ spent another good morning making flat paper come to life at her Geomigami class (geometry + origami). She loves creating origami objects. Alas, she cannot learn everything through origami, though she would like to. While the weather is nice and the girls are outdoors playing, I’m taking some time to research teaching methods for Visual Spatial Learners. I’ll share with you what I’m finding. *Disclaimer* this is just a list of good ideas I’m making. I do not know any of the people who are making these recommendations.


From “Homeschool Articles.com”

Sharpen your pencils! Visual Spatial learners learn best through pictures and illustrations. Visual Spatial learners think in pictures. Once they have a picture of the concept, they’ve got it! No need for repetition and drill.

They do not learn sequentially so “traditional” teaching methods and curriculum only lead to frustration and poor academic performance.

They say: “When planning lessons ask yourself…

  1. How can the topic be illustrated?
  2. How can my child ‘show’ me what he has learned?”

These are the tips from this article that I am going to try with my VSL at home – some are already in play, and I will continue to use them:

  • Use concept mapping to show knowledge of a subject and its relationships
  • Map locations of a story setting, historical events, geographical features
  • Work with math manipulatives
  • Use graphic organizers for just about everything. Introduce or recap a unit, analyze literature, explain cycles and sequences, pre-writing and brainstorming
    are just a few examples.
  • Draw pictures of events on a timeline
  • Create picture cards for learning spelling words, math facts, etc.
  • Create graphs and charts to show the results of research assignments or to answer workbook questions
  • Construct models
  • Create collages, posters, and murals of a concept or to summarize a unit


From “Education.com

Tips from this site include:

  1. Teach the student to visualize spelling words, math problems, etc. An effective method of teaching spelling is to write the word in large, colored print and present it to the student at arm’s length, slightly above eye level. Have her close her eyes, visualize the word, then create a silly picture of the word in her mind. Then have her spell it backwards (this demonstrates visualization), then forwards, then write it once.
  2. Use inductive (discovery) techniques as often as possible. This capitalizes on the visual-spatial learner’s pattern-finding strength.
  3. Teach the student to translate what he or she hears into images, and record those images using webbing, mind-mapping techniques, or pictorial notes.
  4. Incorporate spatial exercises, visual imagery, reading material that is rich in fantasy, and visualization activities into the curriculum. Spatial conceptualization has the ability to go beyond linear thinking because it deals more readily with immense complexities and the interrelations of systems.
  5. Avoid drill, repetition, and rote memorization; use more abstract conceptual approaches and fewer, more difficult problems.
  6. Give more weight to the content of papers than to format. These students often suffer from deficits in mechanics: spelling, punctuation, paragraphing, etc.
  7. If a bright student struggles with easy, sequential tasks, see if he can handle more advanced, complex work. Acceleration is more beneficial for such a student than remediation.
  8. Expose VSLs to role models of successful adults who learn in a similar manner. Many of the most celebrated physicists were visual-spatial learners. Biographical sketches of famous visual-spatial learners can be found in The Spatial Child (Dixon, 1983), In the Mind’s Eye (West, 1991), and the spatial intelligence chapter in Frames of Mind (Gardner, 1983).
  9. Be emotionally supportive of the student. Visual-spatial learners are keenly aware of their teachers’ reactions to them, and their success in overcoming their difficulties appears directly related to their perception of the teacher’s empathy.

From Suite 101

Here’s a good idea, and I can see how this can be used with consonant blends:

Phoneme Collages

  • First have the students use a glue stick or white glue over a large letter printed on a regular 8 1/2 X 11″ paper.
  • Have students make mosaics of the letter by pasting small colored paper shapes, dried beans, small pasta, plastic bottle caps, buttons, or other small item
  • Next, have students cut out and paste pictures that go with each letter all around the letter. Pictures could come from magazines or clip art.
  • Hint: More advanced visual-spatial students may enjoy choosing their own computer clip art for the project.
  • Bonus: Tactile learners will also enjoy learning with this project (good to know, I have a tactile learner too!).

Recreating Letters

  • Have students create words and word families with blocks, magnetic letters, tanagram shapes, or pipe cleaners.


3 Responses to Teaching Visual Spatial Learners

  1. Heather Lambert May 4, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    I use foldables for notes quite often and tons of hands on!

  2. Jackie May 15, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    My daughter is a right-brained learner. We use an online curriculum, Time4Learning, that is perfect for visual spatial learners. We also use videos for history, Drive Thru History.

    When she was little I would have her write her spelling word on a blank 3X5 card (consonants in one color and vowels in another). On the back of the card she drew a picture of the word. This worked great, especially since she is also dyslexic. Some words such as “the”, “and” , “of” and so forth, are especially hard for dyslexics since there is no specific picture for them. She drew what she thought for the word and it worked for her.

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