What is a Sensory Supplement?

During my stint as a history-education major in college, I remember learning about the benefits of multi-sensory teaching. A multi-sensory classroom is important not just because every student learns differently but because we ALL learn in more than one way.  We learn by doing; it’s just how we’re wired. The learning process is informed by all five of our senses, continuously comparing new information to past experiences and building new connections. 

Think about your own experiences and memories - how many are attached to a smell, a sound, or texture? We can conjure up visual recollections of something, but that mental image rarely stands alone. The memory is often accompanied by a recollection of the other senses at play when that moment was processed and stored. You don’t just remember grandma’s house; you smell it.  We don’t experience our world with one sense. We don’t remember with one sense.  Why would we tell you a story with JUST one sense? We don’t.  Enter our signature Sensory Supplements…

Aaron and I created tours that include hands-on historical interpretation using what we call Sensory Supplements. It’s basically a goodie bag that all our guides carry. Each bag includes gustatory (taste), olfactory (smell), or tactile (touch) samples, as well as an iPad loaded with auditory and visual enhancements that correspond with historic sites. We have carefully curated corresponding Sensory Supplements for each tour that we offer.  

For example, in Julia Child’s kitchen at the American History Museum our guests smell Herbs de Provence. When we’re at the Lincoln Memorial, they hear Marian Anderson sing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”. Did you know the Hershey Chocolate Company survived and thrived during the Great Depression?— snack on a sample while we tell you the story!  The Sensory Supplements allow our guides and guests to delve a little deeper, engage in active learning, and create truly memorable experiences!

See, hear, taste, smell, and touch history with Historic America!