This paper reports an empirical study of a multisensory map used by visually impaired primary school pupils, to study human habitats and differences between urban, suburban and rural areas using a local example. Using multimodal analysis, we propose to examine how the use of smell and taste shape pupils’ engagement and the development of a non-visual knowledge of geography. Our research questions include: How do pupils try to make sense of this unusual material, in conjunction with the tactile, audio and tangible material used in this lesson? How does the special education teacher support the development of these interpretations? Multisensory material has the potential to support experiential and embodied learning: were these promises achieved? Our findings show how this multisensory map reconfigures spatial occupation and interaction dynamics, and that it has the potential to make the classroom more pervasive to pupils’ social, spatial and emotional lives. In doing so, it provides opportunities for the teacher to develop citizenship education. The paper provides concrete examples of uses of smell and taste in learning activities to support engagement, and has implications for pedagogical design beyond special education.
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