A mind map is a visual representation of knowledge that offers a systematic approach to record and arrange ideas. Mind maps are radial, beginning at the center and expanding outward. Because they are simple to make and enjoyable to use, this creative tool is ideal for classroom usage.
Regular note-taking is sometimes perplexing for special needs students and here, mind mapping can be an ideal option to ease out the process. Mind maps have the power to creatively engage students, thereby encouraging them to follow these maps in most situations. Simply put, the goal is to make it as easily memorable as possible. Additionally, mind maps help with meaningful learning along with memorization and retention of concepts over conventional linear notes.
In this post, we will talk about what the research actually states about mind mapping for special kids, and what are the various activities that can help these young learners.
Mind mapping for special kids: What does the research say?
Students with learning disorders find it difficult to organize and structure their thoughts. Forming connections and linking new information with the already learned one becomes quite challenging for them. Here, a Mind map can help them with the visual aid and sync different thoughts to build a bigger picture.
Sir Tony Buzan, the inventor of the “Mind Map technique”, outlines in his book, Use Both Sides of Your Brain, that the left side of the brain is responsible for logical thinking while the right side takes care of creative thinking. Buzan states how combining certain elements of each side of the brain would result in the brain’s expanded capacity to remember, absorb and be more creative. Mind maps mix words with pictures and a graphical layout urging to use of both sides of the brain and hence, promoting effective learning.
According to research, mind maps make it easier for special children to learn concepts, brainstorm ideas, visualize questions, stimulate creative thinking and understand processes. These maps also help develop concentration and boost imagination for storytelling.
As mind maps are versatile, they can be used in numerous situations and places. A special child can also make a mind map for time management or planning a picnic. You can encourage children to use mind maps as they also keep a track of their thoughts and happenings of the day.
Creative mind mapping activities
Writing straight notes or texts is tiresome and special children may find this process to be complicated and hence lose focus. Mind maps can help ignite that lost interest in learning a particular concept. Once the youngster is familiar with the technique’s fundamentals, they may use it independently and with any topic.
1. Dice Game
A dice game is very simple where each participant throws the dice one after the other. You can include several students in this game or play it with a single child.
Ask each participant to roll the dice and note the number. Let’s say that the first number is 5. Ask all participants to quickly write the names of 5 wild animals. Similarly, ask another participant to roll the dice and write the names of two birds. They have to create a mind map of the list of different categories that are asked by the teacher. Hence, their mind map shall have names of different animals, birds, places, food dishes, or favorite subjects.
This way, the dice keep passing from one participant to another, creating excitement and encouraging critical thinking among them. They can now show their maps to everyone in the class and explain their thought process for the same.
2. Birthday Planner
This can be an exciting activity for all participants. You need to tell students that they need to plan a birthday party. Accordingly, students must think of the important points and then note them on their mind maps. These mind maps will include as many elements of a birthday party as possible.
It can include factors such as birthday timing, cake flavor, guest list, theme, decoration, and food. Students can also write down other important party features while engaging in deep thinking. Students can make their maps creative by adding different figures and diagrams.
Once done, ask them to present their birthday ideas and why they have chosen this specific idea. Allow them to discuss unique ideas presented by other students. This encourages teamwork and brainstorming among kids.
3. What’s in my room?
Students are always excited about their rooms as rooms are generally decorated according to their favorite theme. In this game, students have to focus on the central idea of their room. You need to call out a certain part of the room – for example, the wardrobe. Students then have to list the things or elements in that part of the room.
Next, Let’s say that you read out the name “wall.” Students are now required to make a list of everything that is placed on their wall, including photo frames, paintings, wall art, or any other element. In this way, ask them to make a map of their entire room by considering various elements. This map shall include unique elements of a room which can be discussed with other students.
Similarly, teachers or parents can spell out different places, including wardrobe, shelves, ceiling, or the study table. The participants are required to list things that they remember and make the entire map for the room. This is a fantastic game to enhance critical thinking, sharpen memory, and check the presence of mind of the students.
The process of shopping contains a shopping list, visiting a department store, setting a budget, and finding out the right way to get everything on the list.
Ask students to understand the shopping needs of their home and assign them the task of shopping. Students now need to create a mind map and list everything that goes into shopping. Encourage them to use different colors to make maps look attractive. Instruct them to do everything according to the mind map and then share their experiences with everyone.
In this activity, students need to make a list of all products needed from the supermarket. Then, they need to decide the course of action, the path, timings, and the budget allotted for shopping. Such a mind map helps build a process for completing the task.
A little more imagination and creativity are needed for this mind mapping activity. Students can order events from the novel using the wholly fictitious maps they make as part of this activity.
In this project, ask students to create a map of a story’s events in a hypothetical replica of the setting. For instance, they can draw a map of a forest if you map a tale like “Little Red Riding Hood.” Then, using this forest map, ask them to plot all of the story’s events. Instruct them to be as creative as possible and map the entire story through the mind map.
Ask questions to kids so that they can connect and enjoy the activity. You can ask about the story, how it went, what was the problem, and how it was solved. They can include a sequence of the story, characters, or any other important scene at the end of it.
6. Exam Preparation
Students are often tense or nervous before the examination. While exams require studying and grabbing essential knowledge, students also need a good map to follow their learning schedule.
In this activity, ask students to prepare a map for their exams. You can ask them to include the necessary reading of books, setting the stationary for the exam, going through the dictionary, or clearing doubts with the teacher.
Students can understand the practical way of preparing for exams, thereby encouraging them to never forget an important point before it. It makes them more confident as mind maps can also be used to recapitulate different learning concepts in an effective manner.
7. Write a Fable
Developing essays, stories, and imaginative fables is easier with a mind map. Students can think about the entire scenario before beginning with the creation of a fable. As a fable contains stories of animals, ask students to select the central idea of their fable. It could be an animal, a tree, or other elements of a fable.
Direct students to further think and map out the outline of the story. They should choose the characters of the story, their traits, and what roles they will play in the fable. Students can also include the problems, solutions, and morals of the fable in their mind map.
In this way, students can understand how to develop different essays and writings through mind maps. This helps them understand the importance of a structure and encourages the generation of fresh ideas.
8. Time Your Day
Most of the time, students are confused with so many activities happening around. They can be occupied with different worksheet completion, spending time with friends, learning a new language, completing the school work, and taking time for play. Hence, time your day is the perfect activity for students to map their day.
Ask students to focus on timing their day. They can map the important tasks under school tasks, while the fun work can be assigned under the creative area. This way, they can use their time productively and complete work in a disciplined way.
Always encourage them to use different colors for creating a map for managing their day. This enhances engagement with the map, and they learn to categorize tasks.
9. Solve a Problem
A mind map is extremely helpful in allowing them the space and creativity to think about varied solutions to their problems. In this activity, give them a certain problem and ask them to map various solutions.
Let’s say that you assign them a problem wherein a friend forgets to bring painting colors for an art competition. Ask students to map different solutions to this problem and how they can help their friend escape the situation.
Such a map encourages them to think about numerous solutions. They can also come up with the best and most practical solution, enabling their problem-solving capabilities.
10. Prepare a Food Dish
A lot goes into preparing a food dish. With different ingredients, spices, flavors, and the right taste, preparing a food dish is a difficult task. It is an interesting activity and helps students understand the importance of effort put into Preparation.
In this activity, ask students to prepare a map for collecting different ingredients and write down the process of preparing a dish. You can assign them a dish as simple as a sandwich or baking a cake. They need to think about everything that goes into making the dish. Ask them to create a mind map and list down the process of preparing the dish.
Such an activity helps students brainstorm different ideas as they think about ingredients, the cooking process, and required utensils. They can go as far as they want as cooking is a creative task. Ask them to read out their recipes created via mind maps.
Mind mapping is mostly employed in steadfast undertakings like corporate presentations, higher education, event planning, problem-solving, etc. since it is the fundamental method to explain complicated issues and circumstances. It is frequently communicated to a group of individuals, such as coworkers or students working together on a common subject.
Consequently, for a mind map to be effective, the images must be of a high caliber. Using mind maps is intelligible, and entertaining for all types of readers within a finite reproduction of components, so it doesn’t tire them, just like textual stuff does.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,