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Using Philosophical Enquiry for Learning

Creating an Immersive Learning Environment

Teachers notes

Creating an immersive learning environment is easy! You can do something quite simple to transport your pupils back in time and ignite their imagination to help generate creative ideas and richer work. You don’t need to necessarily build a whole set in your classroom, although if you can that can be a brilliant teaching and learning activity in itself. Using a variety of sensory materials develops imaginative learning experiences for all children and is particularly useful in engaging children with additional needs.

Here are some resources to support you in creating simple sensory and embodied learning experiences:

The five sound files that we have used in our films and audio pieces represent sounds from different times and locations. You can use them as a stimulus for thinking and imaging the landscape, life, people and work during the reign of Seti I, as well as thinking about life in Victorian times and a modern day visit to the Leeds Discovery Centre.

  1. The sound of the desert in the Valley of the Kings - Wind, sand, goats and camels
  2. The sound of a desert shabti-making workshop - Wind, chisel tapping, planing, chopping, scraping, sanding and sawing
  3. The sound of a visit to Leeds Discovery Centre by local school children - Door opening, children chatting, curator walking with keys, stack drawers rolling, box opening
  4. The sound of grave robbers breaking into a tomb - The sound of hammering, rubble, footsteps, box splitting, shabtis scattering and rolling, sarcophagus smashing
  5. The sound of an Arabic market at the time of Seti 1st - Wind, reed pipe, goats, chickens, camels, ox carts, voices (including Arabic phrases for  “antiques” and “how much is this?”)


Activity 1 – Using sounds to simulate creative thinking

Begin with the story of Seti I and the Shabti using the story scripts to help you summarise. You could also use the Comprehension Sheets provided, for setting the context in the Valley of the Kings.

Don’t reveal what the sounds are to begin with.

1. Ask your pupils to close their eyes and listen to each sound file one by one.

2. After each sound file has been played ask children to work in groups to discuss each of these questions and then draw a picture together. This process slows down the thinking process and provides a much deeper exploration of ideas.

  • What sounds can you hear? Try to identify every sound.
  • What do the sounds individually and together make you think about? Gather and record all of your ideas.
  • What do the sounds make you wonder about? Finish this sentence ‘I wonder…..’
  • Draw a picture of what you are imagining now.

3. Once children have discussed the questions, ask them to work in a group to prepare a presentation of the things they have discussed and the questions that they want to ask about the sound.

4. Share class presentations and questions and discuss the answers

5. Share the actual location, time, and details of the sound file.

6. You can extend this activity asking children to create and write their own story together based on the sounds they hear. They will need to discuss and share ideas first and then create a story frame.


Activity 2 – Creating your immersive environment

Here are some examples of the sorts of materials, objects, images, sounds and smells that you could use to set up a complete multisensory Egyptian learning environment in your classroom. There are lots of ideas for immersive learning environments online- on Pinterest you could search for ‘Turn your classroom into an Egyptian tomb/market/village’.

  • Egyptian music, animal sounds, workers sounds, wind, water, sand sounds
  • Orange lighting to represent the sun
  • Sand, rocks, reeds, palm trees or other vegetation
  • Papyrus paper
  • Fan for desert wind (warm if possible)
  • Snake skin, toy snake, rustling sound effects
  • Fake camel fur, camel sound effect, sticky wet sponge as tongue, camel smells
  • Jackals sound effect, fake Jackal fur
  • Toy beetles or replica beetles
  • 2D/3D pyramid model, image, or part of a life size corner of a pyramid
  • Bandages (to throw/wrap)

You can buy sensory scents, aromatherapy oils and other scents used in museums to add to your environment either in a spritz spray for one off smell experiences or in a diffuser to create a longer lasting effect. Search online for museum aromas/scents/smell boxes.

Frankincense, myrrh, galbanum, cinnamon, cedarwood, juniper berry, and spikenard are all known to have been used at some stage to preserve the bodies of their royalty in preparation of the afterlife. You can buy these as aromatherapy oils online.

You can even buy Egyptian Tomb Aroma Oil - A mysterious aroma of incense and funerary oils, created with careful research into what Howard Carter would have smelt when entering the tomb of Tutankhamun.

If you have the time and technical skills you could have your sounds playing at different times in different spaces around the classroom linked to museums objects, archival materials or images. You can find some more ideas for immersive sensory learning environments on Pinterest.