7 Engaging Multisensory Approach Activities

Last Updated on October 11, 2023 by Editorial Team

The result is all that matters; the approach does not. Many promoters of fast learning methods try to sell this idea. However, it is not always effective and may prove harmful, too, for children who have learning difficulties. When a kid is not able to read and write with an age-appropriate efficiency, it is the approach that needs a shift.

That is why; the education space is flooded with tools like manipulatives, online and offline learning games, courses, etc. Most of these tools employ a multi-sensory approach which proved effective[1] for imparting basic language skills to dyslexic children.

Keeping children’s comfort with reading skills learning in mind, we have explained a few engaging activities that can help develop interest towards regular practice and ultimate mastery in linguistics.

What exactly is the multisensory approach for linguistic skills development?

The multi-sensory approach involves the stimulation of multiple senses to achieve a learning objective when the conventional reading and writing abilities are not so pronounced. Thus, this approach complements the needs of kids at the preschool stage as well as those struggling with learning difficulties.

In technical terms, the multisensory approach comprises cues of tactile, auditory, kinesthetic, and visual nature that together help in building and strengthening the foundational skills in children (Moustafa & Martin, 1999). With this approach, teachers try to help kids in developing basic linguistic skills like reading and writing in fun, practical ways.

Especially while introducing reading skills to children, making the process of ‘learning to read’ fun and easy is the sole objective of this approach. Let’s understand through activities how a multisensory approach can be employed for reading skill development.

Multisensory approach activities for developing language skills

1. Singing rhymes to learn the alphabet

Who has not heard any child singing A, B, C, D woven in a rhyming manner? It is perhaps one of the first nursery rhymes any child learns. This activity employs visual and auditory senses. With regular practice done in unison in a classroom environment, which children love doing too, the knowledge of alphabets and their sounds is given to early education seekers.

2. Write in Sand to familiarize yourself with letter construct

You may come across several cursive writing books where the letters with arrows and the sequence in which various parts of a letter are to be written are demonstrated. If that sounds overwhelming and kids develop a fear of referring to the book, you can transport this activity to a box with a thin layer of sand on it.

Kids love this innovative tool and don’t mind practicing the alphabet. Combine action with sounding out the letter and strengthen your weakness in recognizing the letter sound. The act of associating the action with sound offers longer retention.

3. Play with Clay to make Letters

Soft clay complements the kids’ not-so-firm gripping capacity really well. By making tubular shapes and a little pressing, kids can form the shape of letters and develop motor skills and grip too. This activity is a treat to practice as the sense of accomplishment overtakes the struggle of holding a pencil and forming a firm grip on it.

Playing with clay can be done as a group activity. Kids can make a set of letters and form words like welcome, happy, etc. as a group project. Tactile and visual senses are employed in this multisensory approach activity.

Give kids a little bit of tight dough and ask them to make letters from it using a cookie cutter. You can bake these letter-shaped cookies and return them to kids as a prize for successful involvement in the activity. As and when the kids eat those alphabets, they get to remember the look or form of letters which further assists in identifying those in the text written in their books. This multisensory approach activity employs the senses of vision and touch and delivers better results.

5. Use gestures to make phonemes

The basic unit of a word sound is a phoneme. You can make a list of gestures to represent the phonemes like ‘sh’, ‘ph’, ‘bb’, etc. There are about 44 phonemes and 26 letters in the alphabet. So, pick the phonemes that can be represented using the tactile approach.

In this multisensory activity, you combine gesture (touch), seeing (visual), and reciting of phonemes (auditory) to develop word-formation skills. With regular repetitions, phonemes become quite easy to grasp and children can understand the use of phonemes in word formation in a playful manner.

6. Play with letter tiles to form spellings

Letter tiles are easy manipulatives that kids can maneuver and arrange to form spellings. Sound out the letter you need to form three to four-letter words at the start in the correct sequence multiple times. This activity aimed at increasing phonemic awareness[2] employs multiple senses of hearing, touch, and vision to develop spelling-formation skills in elementary students.

7. Tap the arm to practice the letters’ sequence in a word

Visualize your arm’s parts as letters’ position in a word. For example, the upper arm will be the first letter, elbow pit, and wrist second and third respectively. When you practice three-letter words, you can tap these areas in the required sequence and learn spellings.

For example, in the word “Mat”, tap the upper arm for M, the elbow pit for A, and the wrist part for T. It uses tactile and auditory senses to help kids master the CVC concept[3] which is of common use at the preschool stage.

Advantages of multisensory approach use in language skills development

  • Develops deeper interest in reading among children
  • Helps build phonemic awareness and phonics skills[4] that further evolve into strong spelling and vocabulary enrichment abilities
  • Reduces the stress developed from an inability to read using conventional means
  • Strengthens the understanding of concepts that work behind words’ formation or helps learn the proper use of words in the correct context
  • Offers ease of practicing anywhere and anytime as activities may be available online, in digital formats too.

Wrapping up,

The multisensory approach offers the scaffolding needed for building reading skills in growing kids in a pronounced manner. Hence, it is advisable to use this approach as a stepping stone towards grooming kids into confident readers. Try to include activities based on the multisensory approach in daily classroom sessions. It helps work on the brain’s plasticity and creates alternative learning support for children; these have given better results too.


  1. Puspitaloka, Nina & Syarif, Hermawati & Ermanto,. (2021). Teacher’s Perception on How Multisensory Approach in Teaching Reading for EYL with Dyslexia. 10.2991/assehr.k.210325.033.
  2. Tangel, D. M., & Blachman, B. A. (1992). Effect of Phoneme Awareness instruction on Kindergarten children’s invented spelling. Journal of Reading Behavior24(2), 233–261. https://doi.org/10.1080/10862969209547774
  3. Marzila Omar, Nurulwahida Azid (2020). The Effectiveness of CVC Arm Tapping Interactive Application towards Year Two Students’ English Language Achievement. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 8(12), 6517-6526. DOI: 10.13189/ujer.2020.081217.
  4. Ghoneim, N. M. M., & Elghotmy, H. E. A. (2015). The effect of a suggested multisensory Phonics program on developing kindergarten pre-service teachers’ EFL reading accuracy and phonemic awareness. English Language Teaching8(12), 124. https://doi.org/10.5539/elt.v8n12p124

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