Teaching students how to read has many components that they need to master. One of those strands is knowing the alphabetic code (including phonics). Some students will quickly pick up on letters and sounds, but others will need more direct, small-group instruction. Using a multisensory learning approach can help target key skills.
Since I learned that alphabet knowledge is one of the biggest predictors of future reading success, I wanted to create a resource to help me target that skill with students.
Why use multisensory learning?
Using different strategies to engage students while learning a letter can motivate them! You can do this in various ways: listening, speaking, reading, tactile and kinesthetic.
I always start by assessing student knowledge of letters and sounds, then tailor my small-group instruction to fit their needs. If I notice that a student is having difficulty learning a set of letters that I have already taught during my phonics routine, then I will try a more targeted, multisensory approach.
What does this look like?
I will target a few letters at a time that the student has not mastered yet. For each letter:
- Say the letter name and the sound it makes while making the gesture corresponding to that sound.
- Have the student repeat the letter name, sound and gesture.
- Model how to trace the letter with my finger on the textured surface while saying the letter sound.
- Have the student trace the letter and say the sound.
- Repeat if necessary.
- The student uses a whiteboard marker to trace the letter (repeat the letter name and sound).
- The student independently writes the letters.
- Repeat the letter name, sound and gesture.
I repeat this process for each letter (I usually pick 3) and repeat this activity over a few days until they have mastered a letter. Then, I pick a new one.
Making multisensory learning letters
This is the process I used to make the alphabet pages:
- I started by printing the letter templates and stapling them to a piece of sandpaper. Then I cut out each letter.
- I printed off the letter pages and laminated them.
- I used glue dots to stick the sandpaper letters to the laminated pages.
You can make your own copy of these multisensory learning alphabet pages here.