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What is a multisensory approach to reading?

Updated: Jun 1, 2023


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Smart Start Tutors uses a multisensory approach to teach students how to read. This approach was first pioneered by Dr. Samuel Orton and Dr. Anna Gillingham, the founders of Orton-Gillingham in the 1930s. The method is highly recognized and incorporated in teachings across the country.

What makes the method especially successful is it engages different parts of the brain through:

- Sight (visual)

- Sounds (auditory)

- Touch (tactile) and

- Movement (kinesthetic)


By activating different parts of the brain, teachers create a lasting experience to help students recall concepts. The key is to use two or more senses at a time, for example, tracing letters and saying them out loud. Teaching in this manner helps children become more confident readers, as they have multiple ways to access and learn the material.


The Benefits of a Multisensory Approach to Reading

Multisensory techniques are an effective teaching method. It is especially beneficial for struggling learners and those learning to read, particularly students with dyslexia. The benefits of a multisensory approach:

  • Engages multiple senses: visual, auditory, tactile (touch) and kinesthetic (movement)

  • Enhances memory and the ability to learn

  • Helps children retain more information

  • Good for all types of learning styles

  • Improves concentration and focus

  • Develops critical thinking

  • Useful for teaching any subject

  • Activates different parts of the brain

  • Effective for all types of learners, especially effective for dyslexic students

  • Improves communication and reading skills

  • Allows for more individualized lesson planning

Easy Multisensory Reading Activities

Kinesthetic Reading Activities

  1. Scavenger hunts to find and spell words or letters

  2. Stacking blocks for each rhyming word

  3. Learn letters in sign language

  4. Use facial expressions while reading

  5. Add movements for letter sounds

  6. Use nonsense words

  7. Air write words and letters

  8. Use a clothespin to sort rhyming words and letter sounds

Auditory Reading Activities

  1. Read tongue twisters together

  2. Say and find sight Words

  3. Play "Guess Who" using sight words

  4. Listen to Audiobooks (Read our recommended list)

  5. Read text with lots of dialogue and act out voices

  6. Read books in different voices (daddy, baby, grandma)

  7. Practice sounds in front of a mirror

  8. Use mnemonic devices for memorization

Tactile Reading Activities

  1. Hide and Go Seek toys with letter sounds

  2. Cut out letters from magazines or newspapers

  3. Use puppets for kids to talk to using sight words, rhyming, etc.

  4. Writing letters and words in sand

  5. Writing letters or words using paint in a ziplock bag

  6. Use playdoh or clay to make letters

  7. Use phonics manipulatives

  8. Play a game of memory with sight words or letters

Visual Reading Activities

  1. Label items around your house for easy visual reference

  2. Watch Education TV shows on PBS or YouTube

  3. Download Reading Apps

  4. Use Big Books

  5. Have them draw a comic strip while listening to books to improve reading comprehension

  6. Visit an art gallery and talk about the art

  7. Use word magnets and letter tiles for building words and sentences

  8. Hidden picture activities to find words or letters


Online Multisensory Reading Instruction

If your child is a struggling reader, you may be wondering how effective multisensory reading instruction can take place in an online setting. Although traditionally reading instruction has been conducted in person, online tutoring is on the rise and has been for quite some time now. There are some amazing tools that have been developed in the past decade that allow for multisensory, engaging and personalized reading instruction to take place online. At Smart Start, we use the Orton-Gillingham multisensory approach to reading instruction that keeps the student's interests, learning style and goals at the forefront of every lesson. What does this look like, you ask?


Visual Materials:

We utilize visual aids such as interactive websites, digital flashcards, and online reading programs that incorporate colorful and engaging visuals. These resources can reinforce letter recognition, sight word identification, and comprehension skills.


Audio Support:

We leverage audio resources, including audiobooks, online story narrations, videos, music, and games in our sessions. Hearing fluent reading can enhance your child's auditory processing, listening comprehension, and fluency. Using music and games help to build connections in the brain so information is retained and can be built upon for future learning. This can help all areas of reading from phonemic awareness to comprehension skills.


Kinesthetic Activities:

We incorporate hands-on-activities into our online instruction. For example, we have students use manipulatives such as magnetic letters, tactile letter cards, and virtual manipulatives on interactive platforms to practice letter formation, spelling and word building.


Gesture and Movement:

We engage our students in body and movement during reading activities by using gestures to represent sounds, syllables, or sight words. This helps reinforce learning and memory.


Need More Support?

Online Reading Tutors for Students with Dyslexia

Our online tutoring sessions for students with dyslexia are Orton-Gillingham based and tailored to each individual student. With our online tutoring program, your child will receive the personalized attention and support they need to succeed.


We will work with your child to help them learn and understand the material at their own pace. We take into consideration their learning style and interests with each individualized plan.


Our staff has experience working with students of all ages who struggle with reading. Our online tutoring sessions are designed to make learning effective and fun, allowing your child to reach their maximum potential.


We believe every student has the ability to succeed. We have over 20 years of combined experience teaching students with dyslexia (Further reading: Common Signs of Dyslexia by Grade Level) and supporting a wide-range of learning abilities including ADD, ADHD, emerging readers, and developing readers.


Each child receives individualized reading intervention plans with resources from the top online reading programs for struggling readers. Every tutor is dedicated to closing the reading gap while helping your child gain confidence and a love for reading.

Get started for Free with a Discovery Call to learn more about your child's reading abilities and how we can support them.




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