Trying to teach children with dyslexia with the same tools and techniques as neurotypical students is like writing on a white marker board with white chalk.
It’s not that the board or the chalk is faulty; it’s just that they are not a great fit for each other. Instead, a marker might leave a longer and more impressionable mark on the whiteboard.
Just like curriculums, teaching, and learning tools and techniques suited to individuals with dyslexia might be more effective in actually producing educational gains. Activities are one such tool that can adapt to the various needs of individuals with dyslexia and help them better understand and learn various simple activities like reading, both at home and at school. This blog highlights various activities that can be used with individuals with dyslexia to help improve their reading proficiency.
Activities for building effective reading skills
Teaching techniques suited to individuals with dyslexia can help with better learning outcomes. Reading is one such activity that requires a fair amount of practice which can be made fun and easy using these activities:
1. Match me
For this activity, the educator will have to prepare a set of scene or character descriptions and find various photographs, out of which one should match the description.
The learners will be given a chance individually to read each description and then raise their hands if they know which picture it matches. The educator can then randomly call upon a learner to answer. The educator should ensure that every learner matches at least one description correctly with the picture.
This activity will not only ensure that the learners are actively reading the description but also that they understand it. Since comprehending descriptive paragraphs can be a struggle for some individuals with dyslexia, the pictorial cues will enhance their comprehension and make the learning experience more beneficial.
2. Enact the Emotion
For this activity, the educator will have to find a chapter from a novel or a story that takes the reader through a whirlwind of emotions.
The task of the students will be to take turns reading a paragraph from the story. But this won’t be like any other reading. Whatever feeling is mentioned in the paragraph, the student will have to enact that feeling while reading the dialogue. For example, if the paragraph says, “Mr. Humphrey said angrily, “the student will have to read the following paragraph in an angry tone.
Reading with appropriate tone changes, pauses, and other effects can be a challenge for individuals with dyslexia. This activity will ensure that students are not only reading the story but also feeling the emotions and ultimately understanding the message behind it.
3. Buzzer time
For this activity, the educator will have to present an essay with several spelling errors in it.
The class will be divided into two teams with an equal number of students in each. Each team will be given a buzzer. They will together read the essay and buzz every time they find an incorrect spelling. The team that points out the most spelling errors and gives the correct ones to replace the errors will be declared the winner.
Individuals with dyslexia can often have trouble with spelling. This activity won’t only enhance their reading abilities but also exercise their spelling capabilities.
4. Pick your candy
For this activity, the educator will have to lay out as many chocolates as there are students in the class. Each chocolate will have an essay pasted behind the bar.
The students will be asked one by one to pick their chocolate bar and then read the essay written behind it correctly. A mistake while reading the essay would mean that they would have to share one piece of the chocolate with their friends. Two mistakes would mean two pieces, and so on.
In this activity, the students will have extra incentive to do their best and not make any mistakes while reading so that they get to eat the entire chocolate bar. Even if they do make mistakes, they will learn the value of sharing.
5. Model it
For this activity, the educator will have to find an audiobook that doesn’t just narrate the words bus instead reads aloud the book and brings the story to life.
The task of the students will be to carefully listen to the passage being read in the audiobook and then read out loud the same passage for their class while trying to mimic the pauses, the changes in tones, and other mannerisms of the audiobook reader.
This modeling activity will bring a multisensory approach to the classroom where the students will be able to engage with the material in visual as well as auditory formats. This approach is especially beneficial for individuals with dyslexia, as they tend to process and absorb information a little differently than their neurotypical peers.
6. Narrate it
For this activity, the educator will have to find a video reading of a story or a book. Video readings usually display the text as well as corresponding imagery that goes with the scene being described through the text.
The audio of the video reading can be turned off, and the students can be asked to become the narrators and read the story out loud instead. Their task would be to keep up with the pace and read the text before it disappears.
The video, paired with the narration of the story, will also give the students a multisensory approach to the story, giving them a more comprehensive understanding of the same.
7. Pass the book
Perforated books are another great way of introducing multisensory learning and reading to the classroom.
The learners can sit in a circle and read one passage each from the perforated storybook before passing it to the person sitting beside them. This will give students both a visual as well as a tactile experience of the story.
If any student has any problem while reading or feels like they are stuck somewhere, one of their peers sitting beside them can help. This shared reading experience will not only enhance everyone’s reading skills but social skills like helping and cooperation as well.
8. Poetry treasure hunt
For this activity, the educator will have to prepare a treasure hunt with codes and clues in the form of poetry.
The class can be divided into two teams with an equal number of students in each. The teams can go around finding the poetic clues and putting their heads together to read the clue out loud to their team and then crack the location of the next clue. The first team to crack all the clues and reach the treasure will become the winner.
This game will require students to come together to use their reading and comprehension skills to understand what the poem says, means, and ultimately where the hidden treasure is.
9. Pronounce it
For this activity, the educator will need several tiles with various pronunciation marks made on them, like the comma, full stop, colon, semicolon, apostrophe, etc.
The class will be divided into two teams with an equal number of students on each team. The teams will take a chance to give a sentence to their opponents. The task of the other team will then be to read the sentence out loud and place the pronunciation tiles where appropriate and needed. The team will lose points for either missing out on a pronunciation mark or incorrectly placing one where it was not needed. In the end, the team with the highest points will be declared the winner.
This game will not only help students practice and excel at reading but also understand the importance of various pronunciation marks and how to use them.
10. If I were you
For this activity, the educator will have to write the name of each student in the class on a chit and mix it up in a bowl.
Each student will go one by one and pick a chit. They will then have to pose as the person whose name they got in the chit and write a letter to a famous celebrity, fictional character, or role model. They can insert personal details and anecdotes about the person they are posing as in the letter. The students will then take turns reading out their letters in front of the class and having their classmates guess who they were posing as in the letter.
This activity will use and build several creative writing skills along with reading skills. The students will have to find clever ways to slip in identifying traits without making it obvious or having it stick out of the letter like a sore thumb.
Individuals with dyslexia might struggle with reading due to various reasons, but customized learning practices can surely help increase their educational benefits. Activities, such as the ones highlighted above, have a wide space for customization of difficulty levels to match the student where they need it and uplift them to increase their gains from the curriculum.