The Multi-Sensory Teacher: Techniques for Reading, Math, and More in the Special Education Classroom

The Multi-Sensory Teacher:  Techniques for Reading, Math, and More in the Special Education Classroom
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We Learn Best When We Use All Our Senses

The senses are very important for learning. Our eyes, ears, taste buds, nose and skin are truly windows to the world. They help us know and understand the world around us in a whole and complete way. We are designed to learn through all the senses. Inability to use and experience even one of these sensations, effects the way we perceive the world. On the other hand,

using as many sensations as possible helps us to learn and understand better.

Disability can often be a cause for decreased sensory input. A child with a physical disability does not get the opportunity to touch and feel things that another child would. They do not get to feel movements the way other children do. Children with hearing or visual difficulties too, are often cut out from the rest of the world. We as teachers and parents need to bring the world to these children. Some children have difficulties in processing and understanding sensory input, and they too may have reading difficulties.

Multi-Sensory Teaching

Multi-Sensory teaching involves the use of multiple senses like hearing, vision, and touch to learn. Children don’t learn just from books, but by doing, feeling, and experiencing. Multi-sensory teaching helps children register information better and retain it for a longer period of time.

Early Childhood Concepts

Early childhood concepts can be taught using multi sensory teaching techniques. Some examples for activities are:

  • Playing games like hunting for an object shown in the picture and saying the word.
  • Touching and guessing what the object in the bag is.
  • Action songs to teach body parts
  • Finger painting to teach colors


Multisensory teaching helps children pick up reading skills. This is especially true for children with learning disabilities like dyslexia. Here are some ideas for multisensory teaching and reading:

  • Making play dough models of alphabets
  • Making letters on sand
  • Teaching vocabulary during an activity instead of from books alone
  • Reading a book with headphones and a tape where the story is being read.
  • Running a finger over alphabets and saying them loud to learn them
  • Drawing alphabets on the skin with a finger
  • Writing words on sand

Early Math

Math concepts are learned best through multi sensory techniques:

  • Gluing the right number of objects on the card according to the number written on it.
  • Sorting games and activities.
  • Puzzles to learn shapes.
  • Joining two triangles to form a bigger triangle, and two squares to form a rectangle.
  • Learning addition and subtraction by writing numbers on stairs and jumping up or down according to what needs to be added or subtracted.

Students Will Respond

The multi-sensory teachers uses play and activities to teach concepts. Find out what the child enjoys doing the most and use it to teach the child. Be creative in the way you use materials to teach concepts. Children, too, enjoy multi-sensory teaching, and it helps them to remember things much better.