Multi-Sensory Ideas for Teaching Sight Words


In order to be fluent readers, students need to be able to recognize sight words quickly and accurately as these words make up between 50-70% of the words we encounter in text.  Students who struggle learning sight words greatly benefit from using a multi-sensory approach to teaching.  The term “multi-sensory” means using all the different senses at the same time.  Using this approach to teaching increases the likihood that the student will remember the word.  When teaching sight words this coming year, try using a variety of multi-sensory materials during your small group intervention or within your literacy centers.  Here are a few of my favorites:

1.  Craft Sand-  Students love writing their sight words in sand!  Admittedly, it could be a bit messy, but a little planning can help.  You’ll have to experiment with the different sand textures.  Some of the first sand I puchased was a little dusty and made more of a mess.  The sand I use now has more of a pebble-like feel.  My local butcher generously donated a packet of small foam meat trays.  Using a plastic funnel (purchase in the arts and crafts section) is useful in getting the sand back into the container.


2.  Bendaroos-  Benadroos are wax covered sticks that can be bent into any shape.  They are the less expensive option to Wikki Stix.  I found this whole packet of Bendaroos on sale for $5.00!!


 3.  There are so many fun glue options nowadays.  Everytime I walk through the arts and crafts section it seems like someone has invented a new puffy or glittery type of glue or paint.  Try them all!


 4.  Play-Doh is an old favorite.  In my early years of teaching (that would be before having 3 children), I used to love to make my own.  I can’t believe how many recipes I tried and the colors and scents I experimented with.


 5.  Plastic Canvas-  Maybe using plastic canvas isn’t as glittery as the other activities, but it is a great multi-sensory item! It’s quick, easy and very effective.  Plastic canvas can be purchased in the needle/yarn section in most large department stores.  I typically cut a sheet in half length-wise.  Using a crayon, students trace the word on paper placed over the canvas.  When the paper is removed, the letters of the word are “bumpy”.  Using their finger, students trace the letters while saying them and then reading the whole word (“a” “n” “d” spells “and”).


6.  Yarn- Another fun multi-sensory activity is to make sight words with yarn.  Simply form the letters with the glue and place the yarn over the glue.  You can use the free multi-sensory templates provided below.


 7. Pipe cleaners-  Have your students make sight words with pipe cleaners.


8.  Magnetic Letters- I love magnetic letters!  Your students can make words using the letters on the table or better yet a magnetic surface.  Try a cookie sheet or a refrigerator if you are working with your child at home.


9.  Shaving Cream-  So much fun!!  Usually we simply just spray the shaving cream over the table and have the students write the words.  For an easier clean up, you can choose to spray the shaving cream on a tray.


Feel free to download the templates for the first 25 words of the Dolch 220 sight words. Click the following link Multi-Sensory Cards- Sight WordsList 1


The Multi-Sensory Teaching of Sight Words download is available in my online Teachers Pay Teachers store. This download includes the complete set of the Dolch 220 sight word templates, flashcards and specific instructions for introducing sight words using the multi-sensory approach.






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  1. Barb says

    My son has dyslexia and I hired a tutor who used these methods to help him with his language usage and reading skills. They are phenominal.

  2. Jill T. says

    Can you tell me what font you used for the multi-sensory sight word list? I love the font, but we use different sight words not the Dolch, so I would have to make my own templates.

  3. Simi says

    I just heard of your site and im already nuts about the watering can freebie…thank you so much….wonderful ideas!!

  4. shirley says

    I came upon your site while looking for ideas. My day if not my week was made. A treasure box full of ideas. Great – thanks heaps

  5. Susan says

    Thank you so much for your materials. My 6 year old daughter has been struggling with letter rec, letter sounds, and sight words. As an English teacher, I feel like “bad mommy” for not being able to teach my own child! These ideas are helping tremendously. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  6. says

    Julie, Thanks for sharing your collection of multi-sensory sight word activities. I especially love the plastic screen idea! I use sandpaper but this is even more fun! I will be linking to this post on my next blog (writing as we speak) and repinning as well! Thanks!

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