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January 07, 2022 2 min read

Everyone learns in different ways.  Some people learn best by simply reading (and rereading) information while others need to listen to it over and over in order to retain it.  Still others may find that they need to take and rewrite notes on a subject in order to thoroughly understand and remember it, but others may find that moving around while saying it out loud works best for them.  Since learning styles are different for everyone, effective teaching instruction should try to include multiple ways of presenting information.  

Multisensory instruction is a way of teaching that is particularly effective with beginning and struggling readers because it encourages students to use more than one of the five senses at a time. This gives students the opportunity to make connections and learn concepts in multiple ways. The traditional way of teaching reading and writing naturally involves sight, hearing and speaking, but multisensory instruction also tries to incorporate touch (tactile) and movement (kinesthetic) if possible. 

Examples of multisensory instruction include:

  • Touch, trace and say:  Students point to a letter or word and say the sound or name of it as they trace it or point under it.  You can also make letters out of sandpaper to trace or cover letters in an item that begins with the same letter (i.e. the letter “c” could be covered in cotton balls).

  • Tactile writing: Students use shaving cream, rice or sand to practice writing and saying letters and words.

  • Syllable clapping/tapping: Students read a word and clap or tap sticks as they say the different parts (syllables) of the word.

  • Shared reading: Students follow along in a book while listening to the teacher or audiobook at the same time.

  • Building words with magnetic letters:  Students read a word, build it with the letters and write it on paper.

  • Playdoh letters:  Make a letter out of playdoh, say its name and sound and write it on a chalkboard, whiteboard or paper. Think of other words that begin with the same letter.

  • Games involving gross motor skills like dancing, throwing and catching or jumping.

The amount of activities that use multisensory instruction techniques are limitless as long as they involve as many of the senses as possible and are connected to a skill or concept.  Although it takes a little more creativity, it is worth it to address the different needs and learning styles of the students in the classroom.  

Any questions?  Please email us at Janice@Neighborhoodlit.com.  Taylor Burke is a teacher and Director of Communications at Neighborhood Lit. and works closely with Janice Migliazza, a Reading Specialist and owner of Neighborhood Lit, Route 34, Colts Neck to bring you this information.