Multi-Sensory Learning-Sight Words

By Jenna Richter | January 22, 2016 | Literacy

Teaching sight words or high frequency words in classrooms has become a big part of  literacy and early reading practices.  They are often taught as a drill (flash cards and lists) and they are often accepted by students with reluctance.  In the Discovery Lab, we like to use many different approaches to learn our sight words.  We using a learning program called Reading Eggs, we read “Just Right” books that contain many of our sight words, we play games like sight word bingo and paint, write and sculpt our words.

Boden is doing his sight words matching colors to squares he has glued.
Boden is doing his sight words matching colors to squares he has glued.

Today, we used a multi-sensory approach.  Using a multi-sensory approach is a practice Occupational Therapists have used for years but it has benefits for all learners.  Using more than one sense helps children to learn and retain information more easily.  Each different sense adds an opportunity to encode and integrate the information.

Louie has written "we" and is now reading it back to me.
Louie has written “we” and is now reading it back to me.

The activity “Salty Words” engages the tactile (touch) sense, sight and hearing.  As we draw our words in the gritty sand, our brain has the opportunity to remember the motor patters based on information from the skin and muscles.  When I dictate the words to the group they are hearing the word, how we can sound it out and how to spell it.  Finally, I model writing the words in my own salt so the students can see the pathway of each letter and and what the word looks like.

Harlow and Finn are writing the word "look". They are also developing their spatial ability as they try to fit the word in the salt.
Harlow and Finn are writing the word “look”. They are also developing their spatial ability as they try to fit the word in the salt.

These approaches are fun and keep students engaged in their own learning.