Top 10 manipulatives to improve reading skills

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Last Updated on September 8, 2020 by Editorial Team

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Manipulatives are objects and tools that teachers employ in developing the reading and abilities in child with conditions like dyslexia. These are also used for providing hands-on learning solutions for word building skills in early learners of language. Manipulatives for reading can be in the form of flash cards, cubes, Cuisenaire rods, etc.

Advantages of using manipulatives for reading in teaching word building

Manipulatives for reading can be used as tools for engagement, gamification and assortment activities that can help cultivate language skills in a child. The dyslexic children who find it difficult to identify the shapes of the letters or relate to the sequence of the letters in the words can benefit from the tangibility of manipulatives. They can use it as an alternative to conventional methods of reading and writing words.

Apart from dyslexic children, the teachers can befriend the early learners, too, with the letters and words using manipulatives for reading as an engagement tool.

Listed here are the top 10 manipulatives for reading you can include in your teaching tool kit.

1. Learning Resources Reading Rods Phonemic Awareness Kit

Learning Resources Reading Rods Phonemic Awareness Kit manipulative for reading

It is a complete phonemic awareness kit comprising of activity book, reading rods, activity cards, letter and picture cards and storage box. The kit is designed to help children isolate the beginning, middle and end sounds of the words.

They get help in recognizing uppercase and lowercase letters. It reinforces letter sequencing too. Designed to support kids of age 3+, the kit allows easy breaking of the word into phonemes (or letters) by the way of identification and sorting, making it easier for them to internalize the word-sound concept.

2. Learning Resources Sight Word Swat a Sight Word Game

Learning Resources Sight Word Swat a Sight Word Game manipulative for reading

Sight words are made in the form of flies in this vocabulary building kit to help the kids develop word identification and spelling learning skills. These flied are color coded according to the level of study, such as – blue for pre-primer, red for primer, green for first grade, and orange and red for second and third grade respectively.

There are 110 double-sided, fly-shaped cards giving a total of 220 words to practice. When any of these words is called out, the student uses the swatter to swat the matching fly. This game offers element of speed to help achieve fluency and reading confidence.

3. Picture My Picture Verbs Flash Cards

Picture My Picture Verbs Flash Cards manipulative for reading

This flash card is designed to develop language skills leading to proficiency in communication and day-to-day conversations. These are two-sided flash cards in which one side features a picture and the other the name of the action the picture depicts. It helps in learning 40 most used action verbs in an engaging manner, enabling the child to convey ideas better.

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Used as speech therapy tool, it is quite a useful manipulative for reading for children with conditions like dyslexia, autism, etc. This flash card collection comes with lots of ideas and practice sets to be used in classroom, thus, providing a very good aid to the teachers.

4. Unifix Letter Blends Cubes Set

Unifix Letter Blends Cubes Set manipulative for reading

This manipulative for reading offers Unifix way of learning about the letters and phenomes. The blend cubes are designed in color-coded manner. It is quite ideal for building phonemic awareness.

Children can sort and connect initial blends, medial blends, digraphs and diphthongs by picking the corresponding color-coded cubes. For example, green cubes are for initial blends and digraphs, orange ones are for medial vowels and yellow represents ending blends and digraphs. This cubes set is used with CVA or alphabet sets to create thousands of word sounds.

5. Carson Dellosa – Sentence Building Cards

Carson Dellosa – Sentence Building Literacy Resource with 86 Cards manipulative for reading

Learn to make sentences using a puzzle game. There are color-coded interlocking cards provided in this kit. Children learn about the correct sequence of words to be used for making a sentence. If any wrong card chosen, the sequence does not happen.

This makes it easier for the children to pick the correct words and make sentences that make sense. It is quite useful for building language literacy in child. The children can learn from it the important language concepts like parts of speech, punctuation, capital letter use with the help of 55 word placards, 4 punctuation and 27 photo cards.

6. Little Treasures Letter Matching

 Little Treasures Letter Matching manipulative for reading

A very comprehensive solution for learning letter identification, spelling and word formation with the help of picture cards and letter cubes. It promotes strategic thinking and sociability in child as it can be played by bringing two players together at a time.

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This word picture match game offers learning by the way of memorization. It is also helpful in enhancing hand and eye coordination. Child or parent can put the cubes on the tray to form a word and the other player picks the corresponding picture. Thus, it offers playful way of enhancing word recognition.

7. Learning Resources Vowel Owls Sorting Set

Learning Resources Vowel Owls Sorting Set manipulative for reading

This owl vowel sorting set offers an interesting way of learning vowel sounds. This reading manipulative contains five owls representing each vowel – a, e, i, o, u and one blank one for y. The children go through the picture cards and pronounce the word. Depending upon the vowel it contains, they put the card in corresponding vowel owl.

Apart from vowel recognition, the children get to enhance memory retention, word-vowel matching skills. About 100 picture cards provided, offer the children practice that they need for enhancing word building concepts and language literacy.

8. Lower case lacing letters

Lower case lacing letters manipulative for reading

Lace the letters to understand the shape and look of the lower-case letters. You can move up the learning ladder and learn spellings by lacing the letters of the words in sequential manner. Some early learners are taught the sequence of letters by lacing them as they appear in the alphabet.

It is an exciting kit for early learners and dyslexic kids who need developing the concept of lower-case letters and spelling building skills without actually writing the spellings. This reading manipulative is quite useful for enhancing motor skills too. Aims of teaching letter recognition, patterning and sorting can be met beautifully using this manipulative.  

9. POP for word families game

POP for word families game manipulative for reading

Kids get to learn words with same ending sound by playing this game. It is a fast-paced game useful for developing fluency in children apart from building vocabulary and spelling skills.

This manipulative for reading offers spelling learning support with the help of 92 word family cards provided in this kit. Two students, or parent and child, or teacher and child can play it together. Teachers can choose to start with two-letter ending and then move to three-letter ending as the children gain familiarity with this manipulative.

10. Sunnyglade 500 pc wooden tiles

Sunnyglade 500 pc wooden tiles manipulative for reading

Craft and learning come together in this 500 pc wooden tiles’ set. The children can learn sorting and arranging letters to form spellings. It forms a suitable alternative to writing for learning spellings for an early learner as well for dyslexic children.

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The children can prepare a memorable gift for their parents by making their names or lovely messages; teachers can use it for carrying out spelling teaching activity in the class. This set contains about 500 letter tiles allowing the children to practice as many spellings as possible.

How to approach strategies to use manipulatives for reading in a classroom

Using the manipulatives for reading to enable internalization of the language concepts in children can be achieved through:

  1. Discussions: Teacher can explain in simple way that manipulatives are to be used according to rules. The students, however, can be allowed to explore and make new and share new discoveries.
  2. Familiarizing: The kids need to have a sense of familiarity with manipulatives. Thus, teacher can ask them to store and arrange to accelerate befriending process.
  3. Participation of parents: Some teachers introduce the manipulatives to kids’ parents too, so that they can understand the role of these tools in the classroom learning.
  4. Posting class charts: Preparing charts of manipulatives to be used give a kind of heads-up to the kids. They can understand that manipulatives are the teaching tools and something very important for their learning.

So, make spelling learning or vocabulary building a fun activity for the children by using manipulatives for reading mentioned above. These form suitable alternative for building language literacy in dyslexics and form strong foundation for early learners as well.

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