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Multisensory Learning For Phonics Instruction Made Easy

Boost phonics with multisensory learning. Engage students using visual, auditory, kinesthetic, & tactile methods to enhance retention and understanding.
Boost phonics with multisensory learning. Engage students using visual, auditory, kinesthetic, & tactile methods to enhance retention and understanding.

Want a simple way to reinforce learning and help students understand and retain information? Are you looking for ways to engage students with varied learning styles? Multisensory learning is the way to go. 

With multisensory learning, you engage multiple senses during the learning process. That means you use different parts of the brain throughout the lesson and help students lock in learning. 

You can weave in several or all of these types of experiences:

  • Visual
  • Auditory 
  • Kinesthetic (movement)
  • Tactile (touch) 

In addition to helping students learn the academic material, multisensory learning can help with cognitive development and help them build motor skills. 

Multisensory learning works in any subject

For example, in math you could have students jump from number to number to practice skip counting by twos or fives while they chant the numbers with a partner (kinesthetic and auditory). Students could also create a times table booklet. You could add dots of glue to the colored dots to create more of a tactile study guide (kinesthetic, visual, tactile). 

Boost phonics with multisensory learning. Engage students using visual, auditory, kinesthetic, & tactile methods to enhance retention and understanding.

For science, students could touch the parts of a plant while identifying them and explaining why they are important. Or, to learn new science vocabulary, create word cards with images. Have students listen to the definition then pair the word card to the correct definition card (auditory, kinesthetic, tactile). 

There are so many ways to incorporate multisensory learning. Think about what you already do—I bet you already use some multisensory experiences in your lesson. It’s not hard to weave in more or create new ones. 

Multisensory learning for phonics

Let’s look at ways to make phonics a more multisensory learning experience. 

You probably use some visual experiences, such as images on word cards on your word wall, on worksheets, or in phonics games. 

Phonics has a strong auditory component, so practice that includes writing or touching parts of a word when students hear a sound uses auditory learning. When you ask students to segment or blend words aloud, they are both speaking and hearing the sounds. If you use dictation sentences, you are also using auditory learning. 

What about kinesthetic or tactile experiences — and how do you bring several sensory types in? Here are some ideas: 

  • Add a specific motion when teaching a phoneme. Have students speak and make the motion. 
  • Create a word hopscotch. Have students say the words as they hop from square to square. 
  • Use play dough mats to form the letters of words. Have students segment the sounds as they create each letter. Then have them blend the sounds together as they touch the letters for the whole word. Play dough mats can include images bringing in a visual component as well. 

Boost phonics with multisensory learning. Engage students using visual, auditory, kinesthetic, & tactile methods to enhance retention and understanding.

  • Have students make letter shapes with their bodies as they say the sound. 
  • Have students trace letters on sandpaper or other tactile surfaces. Have them trace the sound as you say them. Have students retrace the sounds as they say them. You can trace the word with a cinnamon stick to add an olfactory learning experience as well. 

A winning multisensory learning tool

One tool that blends a variety of sensory experiences and includes the fun factor is a phonics cootie catcher. 

Boost phonics with multisensory learning. Engage students using visual, auditory, kinesthetic, & tactile methods to enhance retention and understanding.

Get a FREE Cootie Catchers Sample for multisensory learning in phonics

I demonstrate the following process before having students work in pairs to do the same. 

  1. One student chooses a picture from the cootie catcher. 
  2. The second student segments the word, opening the cootie catcher as they say each sound. 
  3. The first student chooses a word from the inner part of the cootie catcher. 
  4. Again the second student segments the sounds and opens the cootie catcher once for each sound.
  5. The first student chooses another word. 
  6. The second student opens the flap for this word.
  7. The second student reads the word aloud. 
  8. Both students write the word and then check their spelling. 
  9. Students swap roles. 

Cootie catchers are a classroom favorite and include visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile learning experiences. Get a variety of done for you cootie catchers to add to your multisensory learning toolkit!

Boost phonics with multisensory learning. Engage students using visual, auditory, kinesthetic, & tactile methods to enhance retention and understanding.

 

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