November Math Centers for 1st grade and 2nd grade

Multisensory Phonics Activities

Blog Posts, Foundational Reading, Literacy, Phonics

Written by: Mary Kate Bolinder

Phonics, phonics, phonics! It can’t be stressed enough that a strong grasp of basic phonics is the building block that leads to higher literacy skills. Mastery takes practice, repeated exposure, and modeling. A great way to solidify learning is to use multisensory phonics activities. Studies show our brains learn and remember best with multiple senses engaged. Great teachers know that each student has their own learning style and strengths. All students benefit from multisensory instruction, but for some students, engaging multiple senses and modes is essential for comprehension.

To help strengthen phonics understanding, teach skills through activities that address:

  • visual
  • auditory
  • kinesthetic (tactile, touch and movement)

Keep reading to discover ways to incorporate whole-brain learning with these multisensory phonics activities. Learn more about hands-on literacy activities,

Favorite Tactile Manipulatives

The video above shows some of our hands on literacy activities in action – perfect for multisensory phonics practice!

Our active and inspiring Facebook community of First and Second Grade teachers is full of suggestions for great hands-on phonics manipulatives. You can use these items for explicit sound instruction, isolating sounds, blending, word building, and more. If you’re not sure what to focus on with kids, here is some advice about how to determine what your students need to practice in small groups and/or interventions.

PlayDoh

Roll out letters on letter mats, make words, or stamp letters and words in the dough. For an additional sensory experience, try making your own scented playdoh!

Wiki Sticks

These bendable wax sticks are fun and easy to reuse. Have students shape letters and words.

Letter stampers

Use these with playdoh, kinetic sand, or paint to stamp letters and words.

Sandpaper letters

This Montessori stand-by is great for learners who also need practice with proper letter formation. Have students trace the letter with their fingers as they say the letter name and sound.

Craft Trays

Fill these craft trays with an array of sensory materials – sand, sprinkles, confetti, shaving cream, salt, etc. Have students practice writing letters and words in the trays.

Teach Tricky Phonics Concepts with Multisensory Activities

Example: Hard and Soft Consonants: C & G

With so many phonemic rules in the English language, it’s no wonder students are confused when they are introduced to a new rule. Help students stay on track with these helpful reminders:

HARD C /k/: When C is followed by a, o, or u

SOFT C /s/: When C is followed by e, i, or y

HARD G /g/: When G is followed by a, o, or u

SOFT G /j/: When G is followed by e, i, or y

anchor chart for teaching hard and soft consonant phonics rules

Of course, there are exceptions to the hard and soft consonant rules (giggle!). That is why repeated exposure, word work, and reading practice are so important. Here are a few multisensory activities for students to practice hard and soft consonant sounds.

Playdoh and Magnets

use multisensory instructional tools like playdoh and magnets to teach hard and soft consonant rules

Make a list of hard and soft c and g words on index cards. Give each student a jar of playdoh (soft) and a letter c and g magnet (hard). Students will take turns pulling a card and reading the word. If it is a soft consonant, they will make a c or g with playdoh and place it on the correct letter. If it is a hard consonant, they will place the letter magnet on the correct letter.

Cinnamon Sticks and Gel Writing

Use cinnamon sticks and sand to practice tricky spelling patterns like soft c and g

Have students practice writing their soft c and g words with tactile objects. To practice soft c words, students can write in a sand tray with a cinnamon stick – it smells delicious and starts with the soft c sound! To practice soft g words – make a gel writing pad: Pour a bit of colored hair gel into a gallon ziptop bag. Lay the bag flat, and have students write their soft g words in the squishy gel!

Record and Repeat

Have students record themselves reading a list of new phonics words. Then have students watch and listen to their recording over and over. Do they see or hear anything to improve? Practice and record again! Or have students use whisper phones and a mirror to really hear and see the phonics skill words they are practicing. Sitting near the classroom sound wall is the perfect place to do this activity. Don’t have a sound wall in your classroom yet? Find out how to make a classroom sound wall!

Beach Ball Vowel Team Sort

use a beach ball to teach vowel teams

Take this game outside, or find a spot in the classroom to move around! First, write long vowel team words all over a beach ball. Next, mark 5 areas, one for each long vowel team sound, around the play yard or classroom. Students will take turns tossing the ball to each other. When they catch the ball, they will read the word closest to their thumb, and hop to the spot that matches the vowel sound they hear. For a seated activity, students can toss the ball in the air to themselves, and write the word on a vowel-sort chart. Adjust this game to meet any phonics skill!

Centers & Small Groups

Your little learners can practice phonics skills independently with our hands-on phonics centers. These activities come in print and digital format, so both in-person and virtual learners can participate! Check out our 2nd-grade phonics centers!

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toothy task kits

Printable & Digital Phonics Centers

When it’s time for kids to work with the teacher, use the small group and hands-on phonics activities included in our Small Group Intervention Literacy Kit.

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toothy task kits

Small Group & Intervention Literacy Kit

teach phonics with multisensory activities to help students commit new spelling patterns to memory

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Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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