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. 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 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 the traveling tutor.

Watch this video to see how it is done:

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! You might also enjoy reading my previous posts:

How Do I Organize My Letter Tiles in Orton-Gillingham

The Visual Learner


Please don’t leave without checking out the PRIDE Reading Program.  The PRIDE Reading Program is an Orton-Gillingham curriculum that is used by teachers, tutors, and homeschooling parents worldwide with great success.  The perfect program for an Orton-Gillingham tutor to use!

The PRIDE Reading Program

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

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