A sensory figure, also known as a body biography, is a way for students to take the perspective of different figures in history. They allow students to put themselves in the person’s situation and think through how they would view events from their perspective. These digital sensory figures, perfect for distance learning, include a diverse collection of figures representing dictators, monarchs, and historical world leaders who have affected the world in various ways. These notorious kings, queens, dictators, and other leaders are great for history units. The figures come in both black and white and color versions, and you can choose to use the traditional printable version or the paperless digital Google Slides™ version. If you’re looking for a print only version of this resource, you can find it here.
The set includes the following 20 figures:
- Adolf Hitler
- Benito Mussolini
- Elizabeth I
- Fidel Castro
- Genghis Khan
- George III
- Henry VIII
- Ivan the Terrible
- Joseph Stalin
- King John of England
- Louis XIV
- Mao Zedong
- Mary I of England
- Mikhail Gorbachev
- Napoleon Bonaparte
- Peter the Great
- Philip II of Spain
- Richard the Lionheart
- William the Conqueror
A sensory figure is a drawing of a historical, living, or fictional figure with first-person descriptions of what they might have thought, seen, heard, touched, said, felt, or otherwise experienced during their lifetime. Students “show what they know” about the figure by writing 1-2 sentence descriptions for their figure’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. After writing the descriptions, students connect them to the part of the body to which it most closely relates. For example, a feeling might be connected to the heart. The descriptions should be specific to the historical figure’s life, not generic statements that could apply to anyone. Students should be encouraged to address several topics in their descriptions instead of repeating information.
Sensory figures are an engaging way for students to both organize information as they’re learning and demonstrate their knowledge. They can be used to research the figure in a biography project or even as an assessment after other learning opportunities have taken place. Sensory figures allow students to imagine themselves in their figure’s shoes, thereby gaining a deeper understanding of their figure’s experiences. In addition to focusing on specific people, sensory figures can also be used with groups of people (for example, Confederate soldiers or Loyalists) to define the characteristics that separate them from other groups. Because of the interactive nature, sensory figures are great for interactive notebooks! Finally, they are readily adapted in order to meet a variety of student needs. You can give all students the same figure to fill out, or you can have them complete different ones. I’ve found that students enjoy sharing their figures with partners or doing a gallery walk to see their classmates’ work. You can reinforce vocabulary associated with the figures by providing a word bank of terms students should use in their descriptions.
Download a free example sensory figure here!
Theodore Roosevelt Sensory Figure Example
You may also be interested in other sensory figures:
Black Historical Sensory Figures
Native American Indian Heritage Leaders
Historical Figures & Cultural Icons Sensory Figures
Historical Americans Sensory Figures
Early Peoples and Ancient Civilizations Sensory Figures Bundle
Women in History Sensory Figures