A multisensory approach to teaching letters engages young children through actions to make the learning more meaningful. The activities work well for individual or small group activities, such as a learning center setup in a preschool or early elementary classroom. Keep a variety of multisensory letter activities on hand to give the kids plenty of practice.
Letters cut from various materials give the kids a sensory experience when they run their hands over them. Examples include sandpaper, corduroy fabric, bubble wrap or corrugated cardboard. Trace the letter onto the material and cut it out. For flimsy materials like fabric or bubble wrap, glue the letter to cardboard and cut out around it so it holds up. Encourage the kids to play and touch the letters. Tracing the letters with their fingers helps them learn the shape. Another use for the textured letters is to make crayon rubbings. Each kid places a piece of paper over a letter and colors over it with a crayon to reveal the letter.
Collages shaped like the letter you are learning engages the children to help them improve letter recognition. Each child needs a large cutout of the letter. The kids glue on objects to create the collage. To reinforce the sound the letter makes, have the kids glue on pictures of items that start with the letter. A similar option is to glue on actual objects that start with the letter. For example, cover the cutout with pasta for the letter P, glitter for the letter G and rice for the letter R.
Building letters with other objects give the students practice at replicating the shape. Small blocks that click together work well for letters with straight lines. Provide an outline on paper so the kids have a guide for clicking together the blocks. An option that works for all letters is to slide beads onto pipe cleaners. The kids bend the pipe cleaners to make the shape. For younger kids, provide an outline of the letters so the kids can use it as a guide for bending the pipe cleaners.
Another way to let kids practice letters in a multisensory manner is to fill a small tub with sand. The kids use their fingers to draw the letters in the sand. When they run out of space, they wipe their hands across the sand and start over. Change out the material in the tub to keep the activity interesting. Examples include rice, flour or shaving cream. For less mess, fill a gallon plastic bag with colored hair gel. Zip the bag closed and use hot glue to seal it more. Place the bag inside another empty bag in case the gel begins leaking. The kids are able to press on the gel to write the letters in it without getting their hands messy.
Thanks to Shelley Frost