In the Orton-Gillingham approach, students are required to do a lot of tactile activities. This includes tracing while saying the sounds of the letters on different surfaces. Sound tracing is used to practice and reinforce sounds and spelling patterns for sounds. It can be used for sight words too. On today’s post I am going to share some wonderful multi-sensory tactile ideas, and my favorite tracing materials, that are inexpensive and easy for the Orton-Gillingham tutor to use.  

Plastic Canvas

You can purchase a plastic canvas sheet in the needle/yarn section in craft stores like Michaels. They are around $0.69 and they last forever! I make 4 squares out of one sheet. You place the letter, sound or phonogram that you want your student to practice on a table top. Place an index card on the plastic canvas. I use the really thin index cards, the inexpensive kind you can get at the dollar store. You can also just cut up sheets of paper. The student will then print the phonogram on the index card with a crayon while saying the phonogram aloud. For extra practice, the student can follow up by tracing the letters again on the index card. The plastic canvas provides a fun bumpy surface that creates a lasting impression for the student. If you are a traveling Orton-Gillingham tutor, with a big heavy bag to lug around, then this is by far the easiest option for you.

Sandpaper/Glitter Paper

You can find sandpaper at stores like Home Depot. You can also use glitter paper. They have so many fun colors and textured paper at craft stores like Michaels. Have the student place a piece of paper over a piece of sandpaper or glitter paper, and using a crayon, have him/her write the letters and sounds onto the paper. This creates a nice bumpy texture. After the word is written, have the student trace the letters while saying the phonogram aloud.

Sand/Salt Tray

Add some fine sand or salt into a pencil box. I like to have my students use the pads of their index and middle fingers to write the letters in the sand. Some kids might resist touching the texture of the sand or salt. If this is the case, you can use a paintbrush or a Q-tip to trace the letters in the sand. The pencil box keeps the sand or salt neat and tidy, and will also work well for traveling Orton-Gillingham tutors.

Edible Phonograms

You probably want to save this one for the very end of the lesson, or use it as a Fun Friday treat. Using mini-marshmallows, M&M’s, raisins or chocolate chips, have the student place the food around the letter while they are saying the letter name and sound. Ooh yummy, and I guarantee you that your student won’t forget that phonogram! Thank you so much for reading my post today!   While you are here, you might enjoy checking out The PRIDE Reading Program.  The PRIDE Reading Program is an Orton-Gillingham curriculum that can be used by teachers, tutors and parents.  It is super easy to use, heavily scripted out, affordable and requires no outside training.  Let me know what you think.


Karina Richland, M.A., is the author of the PRIDE Reading Program, a multisensory Orton-Gillingham reading, writing and comprehension curriculum that is available worldwide for parents, tutors, teachers and homeschoolers of struggling readers. Karina has an extensive background in working with students of all ages and various learning modalities. She has spent many years researching learning differences and differentiated teaching practices. You can reach her by email at info@pridereadingprogram.com or visit the website at www.pridereadingprogram.com

Don't go without signing up for the Weekly Roar! Get the latestposts and helpful information from the PRIDE Reading Program.

Join our list to receive the latest news and updates with The Weekly Roar.

Thanks for joining. Use coupon code WEEKLY ROAR at check-out for 20% off your first month on the PRIDE Reading Program.