Active Learning

Based on the work of the late Danish educator Lilli Nielsen, Active Learning is a theory which suggests that children learn best through exploring their environment without adult intervention. Active learning environments encourage and reward exploration by positioning materials in consistent places that are likely to be encountered by the child through random movements. As they consistently find interesting objects and textures through this random movement, children begin to explore to find these materials, and through repeated interactions with the materials begin to explore the objects’ moving parts or shapes and textures. Active Learning Materials include the Little Room- a small space with objects and textures suspended from above or on the sides, the Scratching Board- a piece of wood with different textures on it which can be attached to a child’s tray or positioned on a wall beside the child, and the Resonance Board- a board on which the child lies and feels vibrations from any minimal movement.

Learn more about Active Learning

The National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) has many resources on Active Learning  in their library:

Lilliworks Active Learning Foundation is a non-profit company that promotes awareness and sells materials for Active Learning and has good articles and videos about using AL.

What is Active Learning:  Video clips of children engaged in Active Learning environments –

Active Learning Playspace: Construction Video: ADVISOR (Assisting the Development of Visually Impaired Students through Online Resources): This video shows a young child in her active learning playspace. Her mother and therapist talk about the playspace.

Space for Active Learning (Washington Sensory Disabilities Services)
The webpage has information about setting up active learning spaces and videos of children in active learning environments.

Materials for Active Learning Video (Washington Sensory Disabilities Services and Washington State Services for Students with Deaf-Blindness) The video shows materials are good for active learning environments.

An Introduction to Dr. Lilli Nielsen’s Active Learning:  (Texas Deaf-Blind Project)  A nice, brief descriptions of the guidelines for using Active Learning. 

Developing my Classroom for Secondary-Aged Students Who Aren’t Actively Engaging with People or Objects:  A wonderful article about incorporating Active Learning techniques with older students.

Incorporating Active Learning Theory into Activity Routines: An article from the Texas Deaf-Blind Project newsletter that spells out how and when to incorporate Active Learning.