Multisensory Winter Holiday Practice

If you’re looking for a fun, simple idea to practice your Orton-Gillingham tutoring clients over these winter holidays, Orton-Gillingham tutor Heather Groce has a wonderful idea to share:

Multisensory Winter Holiday Bingo
Multisensory Winter Holiday Bingo

“I made a bingo game for segmenting phonemes. I bought a Christmas go fish card game at Dollar Tree. Then I taped them together in different order to make “BINGO cards”. I saved one set of cards out of the box to use as my caller set. I circled phonemes/graphemes/blends that are only found in that particular word. So,when I call out the phoneme/blend they will look at the word and see if that sound is in the word. If it is then they mark it.Just like a BINGO space. So,for example,when I call out /oo? They should mark the “igloo”. I hope that makes sense and is helpful. I believe I will be playing this with different cards for all the holidays. If you can’t find the cards,you could use stickers and index cards to create your boards.”

Thanks Heather for sharing!

Great simple idea for multisensory practice

If you are looking for a simple way to practice building decoding skills and fluency along with an Orton-Gillingham program, this mom/tutor has a great idea for a DIY board game where you can change out the words. She’s using the Barton Reading and Spelling System, but you could use this concept with any Orton-Gillingham program’s word list (real or nonsense words would work great). What a wonderful idea for at-home practice between lessons! I love the simple ideas, because they usually are so versatile. Also, I love how this is a larger game, so that gets your kids moving around while they learn– always a great thing!

Required materials:

  • posterboard
  • markers
  • post-it notes (squares)
  • tokens
  • dice
  • washi tape (optional)

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CHair kiCK Trick for CH/CK Confusion – Multisensory Monday

Hi everyone! I had a wonderful holiday season and am looking forward to a great 2016!

For the first Multisensory Monday post of this new year, I have a simple trick called the “Chair Kick.” Thanks to Karin Merkle of Rapid City Dyslexia Care for teaching me this great idea, which has worked wonders for one of my online students who has dyslexia.

The “CHair kiCK” trick

This simple trick works great for kids who are confused between the sounds of the digraphs “ch” and “ck” (because they look so similar).

Make a drawing like this one for your student:

CHair kiCK Trick for CH/CK confusion
CHair kiCK Trick for CH/CK confusion

Tell your students that the “ch” digraph is a nice comfy CHair. The round part of the h is the poofy cushion and draw a stick figure sitting down on the /ch/ chair. Then tell your students that if they tried to sit down on the “ck” instead, they would get a kiCK right in the behind. If you’re more talented than I, you could draw the k as a leg that is kicking up.

Then when your student comes across the ch or ck in reading, you ask them if the digraph is the /ch/ chair to sit down on, or the /k/ kick one.

This is also a great one to demonstrate and act out!

For some free, printable worksheets to work on digraph sounds (especially good for older kids), check out

Also check out Sarah Z.’s post today about the Floss Rule AKA FLSZ rule. Sarah will be dedicating the first part of the year to the OG (Phonics First) spelling rules.



Multisensory Monday: WordWright Game

It’s no secret that I love to play games (card games, board games, word games…) so for me, the best part of my job as an Orton-Gillingham tutor is that it involves playing games with my students! Games work for reinforcing and learning new concepts for all levels and ages. Best of all, games are especially powerful for my ADHD students who need as much interactive (and fun) learning as they can get.

I think all of us Orton-Gillingham tutors also understand that there is really no more powerful language tool than the study of morphology– you get a lot of “bang” for your buck, because when you learn a root or affix, you not only learn how to pronounce many words, but it also helps you with your spelling, writing, and vocabulary. I fondly remember learning Latin and Greek roots when I was in a school which taught using the Orton-Gillingham approach and this started me down my life-long journey as a lover of words.

So, for today’s Multisensory Monday, I am featuring something which combines these two concepts: morphology and games. It is a new game called WordWright, by the Defined Mind designers in Chicago. Defined Mind is a sister-and-brother team whose mission is “to help all people– disadvantaged and privileged alike– empower themselves through games.” I think that is a great idea, because there is really nothing simpler yet more powerful of a hands-on learning tool than a card game!

Here is their KickStarter video:

This game consists of a standard deck of 52 playing cards, but instead of suits, they’re roots (and affixes), and the goal of the game is to construct words from the cards using morphology (mostly from Latin). They have many different games that you can play with their card deck.

Here are some examples of games you can play with the WordWright deck:

They’ve already reached their goal, but you can still go support them to get a copy or two of the game (and you can even donate one to a teacher who needs it for their classroom). For just $5, they will send you the printable version and the ability to print as many copies as you need for your classroom, which is very affordable. And the graphics on the cards look super!

WordWright looks like it would be great for some of your more advanced Orton-Gillingham students, or if you are using a program that gets into roots/affixes early as some OG programs do. It would also be a wonderful addition to any classroom for around 3rd grade and up!

This week, Sarah Z. At RLAC has a Thanksgiving activity: making a UR Turkey! This is a great craft project for your classroom to celebrate the holiday and do some word work at the same time!

Multisensory Monday: Vowel Team Chart

There are so many vowel teams and so many possible spellings that is can be difficult to try and make sense of them all– So today, I have a multisensory activity to help organize your vowel teams!
OG Vowel Team Chart finished p1

I have a student in our online Orton-Gillingham program who is struggling with reading and spelling words with vowel teams. It looked like he needed some sort of conceptual graphic-organizer to figure out what sounds/spellings were possibilities for a word with a certain sound. He has learned almost all of the more common and some of the less common vowel teams for reading, but still gets several of them mixed up with one another.
On his online whiteboard, we have the vowel teams organized into a chart, by sound and by placement in the word (beginning/middle or end), with the more frequent spellings in front of the less-frequent ones. I figured putting this chart on paper would be a great multisensory practice activity to help him internalize the structure behind English vowel teams.

Vowel Team Chart

This activity can be modified to suit your scope/sequence and individualized to what graphemes/phonemes your student already knows.

What you will need:
Vowel Team Chart BW, Cardstock, and Scissors OR Letter-Tiles with vowel teams from your program (optional)

To make a reusable puzzle:
Print out the pages on cardstock and cut out the vowel teams you want to use on the last page
— laminate everything if you want them to last a bit longer and you want to re-use this as a puzzle-style activity (or, if you use a program with letter-tiles, you can use those to place in the boxes on the chart).

OG Vowel Team Chart Puzzle
To make a permanent reference chart:
You can have the student make their own personal chart by gluing down the vowel teams onto the chart for their own reference. They may also write a Key Word or draw a picture to go with each vowel team placed on the chart. If you use the LiPS program, you can also have them place LiPS mouth-pictures next to the sounds on the chart for reference.
OG Vowel Team Chart finished p2

As an alternative, you can have your student glue down or write in the vowel teams on the chart and then cover with paper flaps, so your students can quiz themselves on the vowel teams in each section of the chart.

Extend the activity by having your student organize the vowel teams by frequency of use; time your students and see how quickly they can complete the chart; have your students come up with a way to color-code the chart– points for creativity!

Check out Sarah Z’s post today— she has a game for “double duty” nouns and verbs (words that can be both, like dust and bat). This is a great idea for our students who need more grammar practice!

Multisensory Monday: Word Ladders

Orton-Gillingham lessons tend to follow very set procedures, and sometimes this can get too repetitive for our students. I like to mix things up with different activities and ideas for doing the same skills, but in a different way (especially when reviewing a concept) so that my students don’t get too bored! One way I like to do this is to occasionally throw in a “word ladder.”

Word Ladders are great puzzles that engage your student’s phonemic awareness, decoding, and encoding skills!

The concept of a Word Ladder is that you start with one word on the bottom and change one letter (or add/delete one) for each rung in the ladder, following the clues, until you get to the top run with a completely new word! If you provide or create controlled word ladders for your students, they will enjoy it as a fun game break and still be reviewing phonics concepts they know. Also, they are a great center or homework activity for students which can be completed independently if they are leveled correctly for your students.

One great source for phonics-controlled word ladders is this book by Scholastic: Daily Word Ladders: 80+ Word Study Activities That Target Key Phonics Skills to Boost Young Learners’ Reading, Writing & Spelling Confidence
It starts off with CVC words, and moves into VCE words and more complex phonics. There are other sets in this series, which are not phonetically-controlled, but may be good for your older/more advanced students.

Or, here are some free downloadable worksheets created by a classroom teacher that follow the same concept (and are phonetically-controlled):

If you want to design your own Word Ladder worksheets, here is a free template,

For a very beginning student, check out these cut-and-paste word ladders (with pictures instead of word clues) from SuperTeacherWorksheets.

Another Word Ladder idea that is more “hands-on” is to use Unifix Phonics Cubes and
with the Unifix word ladder accessories:

CVC words:

Words with consonant Blends & vowel teams:

These are a great choice for center-work for younger children or your more severe dyslexic children, because they do not require any reading of clues as the worksheets do (they simply require logic to move from one rung to the next).

I have used these with several students, and my only complaint is that the Unifix cubes do not always stick together; and their idea of a Vowel Team/blend/digraph is a bit different from my training/program. You could easily make some of these from Legos or other building blocks you have lying around too!

I hope this gives you a fresh idea for practicing phonics/spelling skills with your students!

Also check out Sarah of RLAC’s post today on Rolling with Word Families, a fun dice-game that would be good for students beginning an OG program in tutoring.

Multisensory Monday: Monster Words

Today I have a wonderful multisensory Halloween-themed idea courtesy of Kellie Lunsford of Marietta, GA.

Kellie taught for 12 years in the classroom and has now been in private practice as a diagnostic interventionist for 7 years. She is certified at the Associate Level of The Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators and serves students in Marietta, Georgia. While remediating students with dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and other comorbid learning differences, she has continued her professional development in order to receive her educational therapist endorsement.

Monster Words

Monster Words Blue Monster

This game will help your students practice the Doubling or 1-1-1 Rule and the Drop-e rule in an Orton-Gillingham program. This idea can be used in 1:1 tutoring, or in a small group setting.

Explain to your students that some words are real “Monsters” to read– so we call this activity Monster Words! We’re talking about words like:


These words are tricky for all students, but especially for students with dyslexia or ESL/ELL students. Recently, I had a dyslexic student who just couldn’t get any of these words right. She would flip one for the other almost every time because she was just used to guessing at them and was not motivated to figure out the baseword and rule used. We started working on these types of word-pairs when we got to Barton Level 6– after she had learned the Doubling Rule (aka 1-1-1 Rule) and the Dropping Rule (aka “Drop-E Rule”). This idea did the trick for my student, and gave her that extra push she needed to attend to the words and get them correct, and hopefully it will help your students too!

Monster Words

(to practice words with suffixes that used either the 1-1-1 or dropping rule)

You will need:

  • Monster parts– There is a great free printable here, courtesy of the SomewhatSimple Blog) — Or if you have an artist for a student, you and your students can try drawing your own (always fun!)
  • a popsicle stick with an “e” on one end and an arrow on the other
  • Monster Words Game Word List or your own word lists

To make the game:

Print out or draw up your monster parts, then cut them out and separate by part (arms, eyes, etc.). Print out and cut out your word-lists (I separated them into groups of 5 words but you can modify this as needed for your students). Take the popsicle stick and draw an “e” on one end and an arrow on the other end. This will be your pointer for the drop-e or 1-1-1 rule.
Here are all the supplies:
Monster Words Supplies

To play:

Your student will get a chance to build their monster if they read the words correctly and tell you the correct basewords.
Set a goal with your student that is appropriate for them. You may want to start with getting 3/5 words correct and that will earn your student a monster part. You can work up to 100% accuracy and then start working on fluency and using a timer if that is your goal.
Hand your student a word list, and tell them they must meet their goal of fluency or accuracy in order to earn a part for their monster. They can use the popsicle stick as a helper tool to determine if the word is using the 1-1-1 (Doubling) rule and the first vowel is a short sound:
Monster Words Doubling Word

OR the word had a dropped silent-e and the vowel is making a long sound:
Monster Words Dropping Word

Once they have figured that out and know the correct way to say the word, they can say it out loud and then tell you what the original baseword was. If they meet the goal, they have earned a new part to build their monster (start with a body, then add mouth, eyes, horns, hands, and feet!)

Here is an idea of what finished Monsters will look like:
Monster Words Blue MonsterMonster Words Green Monster

You can get the Monster printouts from the Somewhat Simple blog here:

Don’t make this mistaking when reading aloud to your children

Educator Pam Barnhill shares in this post on the Ed Snapshots Blog the #1 mistake that parents make when reading aloud to their children.

Everyone knows that we should start reading aloud to babies as soon as possible.

But, once children develop reading skills, parents often feel relieved that they are more independent now and read aloud to them less. Or stop altogether.

However, at this point they really need you to be reading aloud to them more, not less. This is because reading aloud to your children helps them develop language skills beyond decoding the words on the page. It helps with vocabulary, sentence structure, and most of all, comprehension skills. It also helps your children develop higher-level thinking skills.

It exposes your child to a wider background knowledge and words they won’t hear spoken in conversation. It helps them to hear the language spoken out-loud to know the patterns of language. This is especially important for kids with dyslexia, who may not be very strong at decoding, or kids with ADHD who may have trouble focusing on text when reading by themselves.

Other ways to expose your children to this type of language is to have them listen to audio books, or podcasts, or old radio shows. All of these auditory formats will help their brain’s language centers and further develop vocabulary, background knowledge, and comprehension.

When I was in school, I attended a school for kids with dyslexia, and our teachers always spent at least 30 minutes per day reading aloud to us. I credit this as helping me to score in the 99th percentile in verbal abilities on standardized tests. Your child may not get that type of instruction in his or her school, but it is easy to provide it at home.

If you find that when you’re reading aloud to your child they can’t follow an appropriate grade-level story, or they are only focusing on details and don’t get the bigger picture, then your child may have trouble with visualizing what they hear or read. This is a specific deficit in their comprehension skills, and our tutors can help with this type of problem.

Multisensory Monday: Ending Blends Floss Rule BINGO

Do your students struggle with ending blends? Help your students sound out words with ending consonant blends and also practice the Floss spelling rule with this fun BINGO game.

You can make the cards with this handy free bingo maker. Print, cut, and laminate the cards and use wipe-off markers or BINGO chips to mark them.

Ending Blends Bingo

Here is what to input in the 5 columns (notice the spacing between blends vs digraphs):
l m
l t
n t
s t
p t

n d
n ch
s k
s p
m p

f th
d th
ng th
l d
f t

l f
l p
p s
n k
n th

f f
l l
s s
z z
c t

In your program, the ff, ll, ss, and zz may not be thought of as separate, so modify as necessary. As much as possible, I used short vowels. I included some especially tricky ending blends like the -fth in “fifth” for some extra challenging practice (these types of words are included in the Barton system Level 3), but if your students are not ready for that maybe you would want to replace those with some beginning blends instead.

Print out these Ending Blends BINGO calling cards, and have your student figure out what letters belong on the line, then search their BINGO cards for that blend. Every blend (except one if you have a free space) will appear on every card.

Play until a student gets BINGO, or go for Blackout, an X-shape or other pattern. You could easily play this 1-on-1, with a small group, a whole class, or make it a center in your classroom!

Sarah’s post today is a great idea for “Slicing Syllables” to make the phonological awareness task of counting syllables more multisensory! We often have students who do not pass “Part B” of the Barton Screener and need to work with them on this particular skill, so it could be used if you are tutoring a student with that profile.