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Three Literacy Tips Related to Multisensory Teaching


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Hi everyone! It’s back to school time and I’m sure you’re busy getting all your classrooms prepared and supplies organized. I work with students all year round, but I certainly use the BTS season to rethink some of my teaching strategies, purchase new materials and set a plan to help my kids in a way that works best for them.

Looking for easy materials for multisensory teaching? Here are three tips to use in your literacy block or one one one instruction.

As an Orton-Gillinghamteacher, I use an Orton-Gillingham approach in my lessons. This means I create multisensory activities in everything I do with my dyslexic students. Think of a triangle when you picture multisensory instruction. Here is a visual I created with Jason from A Sketchy Guy to illustrate what is happening when we employ a multisensory approach or The Orton-Gillingham method. It involves saying, hearing and writing and/or touching all together, as much as possible.

Grab this free poster set here.

One of the multisensory tools I use during a lesson is a sand tray. This is a great tactile tool to use when introducing new phonograms. Children can trace it in the sand while the vocalize the name, the sound it makes and a key word. Recently, I had a student declare he HATED using the sand tray. He literally cringed at the idea when I took it out. I was a bit surprised because we used it all the time. Some kids just don’t like the feel of sand on their fingers. It may stick to their skin or get under their fingernails. So today, I am sharing THREE alternatives to the sand tray that you are going to LOVE. Are you ready?

1. Use tactile sheets.These plastic canvas sheets are new to me. I just found out about them in my Orton-GillinghamInstructor’s Group. It’s a sheet of plastic canvas you can use for cross stitching or embroidery. You write a phonogram or in this case a sight word on a regular sheet of paper. I did mine in red down below. Slide the paper under the plastic canvas. Then your student will trace over the letters. It provides a nice bumpy surface for tactile feedback. This is my one of new FAVS! 🙂 

This is an old Melissa and Doug wooden boxes that had some magnets or lacing beads in it when I bought it. SAVE THOSE WOODEN BOXES. They have so many good uses. I purchased some sheets of glitter paperwith a a nice stiff foam and adhesive backing. After trimming it down to the size of this wooden box, I peeled off the backing and stuck it inside. Glitter paperhas a nice sand papery feel for kids to use with tracing. They won’t see the letter they form on it like a sand tray, but it has a similar strategy to sky writing. You can observe their letter formation and help make adjustments as needed. If you don’t have a wooden box, GUESS WHAT?? You can peel off the backing of the glitter paper, and stick it inside or outside of the back cover of a composition notebookCheck here for more Orton-Gillingham notebook ideas.

2. Use gel bags.
I picked up some Ziploc storage bags, a huge bottle of hair gel, and some glittery Duck tape. Fill the bag with all the hair gel. I taped the bag down onto a piece of white cardboard I had. Your student can trace with the TIP of their finger, not their nail for this one. Nails can puncture the gel bag and that equals a hot mess. 😉 If you just want to use the glitter Duck tapeinstead of a gel bag, peel a long piece off and stick it to the bag of a composition notebook. It has a nice tactile surface, too!

3. Use photographs.If you have children with sensory issues, a photograph of a sand tray with the phonogram traced in it may be useful. A child can trace in the “sand” and still get tactile feedback. I have a whole set of these alphabet sand tray photographs in my TpTstore. You can grab this set for free by clicking here!

Remember: Multisensory teaching is good teaching for ALL kids, not just ones with reading disabilities. Using visual, auditory and kinesthetic/tactile techniques while reading, and spelling help to create new neural pathways in the brain. Pretty powerful stuff! Be sure to check out another post on multisensory teaching for learned words (also known as sight words) here. Thank you so much for stopping my blog today. Please be sure to sign up for my newsletter if you have a spare minute. Now head to the other wonderful literacy blogs and enter the Rafflecopterbelow to win a TpT gift certificate! Have a great weekend!
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  1. Great tips! Thanks for sharing! I use the plastic canvas (they come in colors – I use red for sight words) and have the kids lay a plain piece of paper on top of the canvas and write their sight words with a red crayon. They love it! :o)

  2. These are great ideas! I could even see myself using them with my toddler just for fun. I guess I should stop throwing out those M&D wooden boxes! It would make saving them a lot easier if they cam with covers!

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