Great Books for Both Learning Styles
The world must be a uniquely beautiful view for one of my kids. He sees things many just walk right past, hears things in a different way, and finds the humorous, perplexing, and inspiring in what we might consider the mundane. His learning styles are unique to him, but I consider it my job to help find tools that will enhance his learning. If you’re the parent or teacher of a child who thrives on visual or linguistic learning strategies, you know that their view on the world is intriguing, and that it is not always easy to use typical teaching tools.
You don’t understand anything until you learn it more than one way. ~Marvin Minsky
I treasure that quote by Minsky. It reminds me that just because things have been taught in certain ways for so long, that it doesn’t mean those are the only effective ways to learn, especially not for every child. Visual and linguistic learners often have similar traits – they enjoy stories, both through pictures and words. The following learning ideas incorporate both of these in unconventional, yet successful ways.
Language Arts Learning Tools for Visual and Linguistic Learners
We use idioms often without thinking too much about them. They are a natural part of the English language. Some people, however, struggle to decipher idioms, usually taking them literally (which would be a very confusing way to spend the day). One of the markers of kids on the Autism spectrum is an inability to comprehend idioms, where instead these kids take everything very literally. The phrase, “I’ve got a frog in my throat” is construed in a very unintentional way.
Teach your kids about idioms using books like my son’s favorite, Horsing Around – Making Sense of Everyday Idioms, by Katherine Scraper. In the book there are 50 common idioms, each illustrated with funny interpretations and a story passage using the idiom in a dialogue situation (a few short paragraphs). This book appeals to both visual and linguistic learners. The pages also each give space for kids to write their own interpretations of the idioms.
Understanding idioms improves language by
- Helping with oral language development, especially in the early preschool and elementary years
- Building reading skills
- Developing creative writing skills
- Improving speech for ESL students (English as a Second Language)
Mathematics Learning Tools for Visual and Linguistic Learners
Math doesn’t have to be just rote calculations. Perhaps it is my love of the written word that draws me to these next two math tools, but I’ve also seen my kids relate to numbers and mathematical theories in a different way.
Life of Fred
- The Life of Fred books are a series of “story” books, ranging from elementary all the way through high school, that are designed to get students thinking about math. The unconventional approach uses humorous stories to teach kids how to apply mathematical concepts – and it does this all of the way through high school Algebra and Geometry courses.
Charlesbridge Math Adventures
- This series of math adventures, perfect for early elementary students (even my older kids love to listen to these, too), is a fun, engaging way to introduce and reinforce math concepts. Colorful and wonderfully illustrated tales of characters experience adventures that are all intertwined with mathematics. Some of our favorite titles include:
- Sir Cumference and the Isle of Immeter (a tale that teaches kids how to calculate things such as the area of a circle)
- Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi (yep – a story about calculating with pi)
- Alice in Pastaland (an adventure centered around problem solving skills)
- Cut Down to Size at High Noon (ratios and proportions set in a western story)
Social Studies Learning Tools for Visual and Linguistic Learners
Do you remember memorizing the list of presidents when you were in elementary school, the names and locations of countries, or the capitols of states? If you were like me, it was simply based on rote memorization, grouped by perhaps 10 names at a time. And the memorization lasted long enough to pass the test – and it was usually not an entertaining experience. If you’re looking for a new way to help your kids memorize these basic (and sometimes boring) facts, try some of these books.
Yo, Millard Fillmore!
- This fun and engaging book helped all of my kids not only learn the names of the US presidents, but their memory of these facts is long lasting, and they really enjoyed the illustrative approach. Each president has a picture and short description as to how the picture fits with that name. Then, each picture (president) is somehow linked to the following one, helping to reinforce the order of presidency.
- Just like Yo, Millard Fillmore!, this book engages readers through humorous illustrations that teach kids how to relate the capitol names to the state names.
The Scrambled States of America
- You might be familiar with this title of the book that teaches about the US states. I also use the board game (by the same name) to reinforce the illustrative concepts presented in the book.
Visualize World Geography
- I admit that when I first saw this book I raised an eyebrow. The graphics are – unique – and I wasn’t sure I would be able to get past their uniqueness in order to actually learn from the materials. But then my kids and I started using it and we realized that these mental maps that the book creates really do work. There are short bits that go with each graphic to help tie the mental map together, appealing to both my visual and linguistic learners.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a homeschool parent is that learning styles not only influence academics, but they transcend our personalities. It is more than learning about reading, writing, and arithmetic. It is about learning what makes each one of us tick – what gets us excited to try new things, and helps us overcome failures. When we tune into our kids’ learning styles, we give them tools that go far beyond their report cards.