In an Orton-Gillingham lesson, students are required to do a lot of multisensory 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 also be used for sight words too. On today’s post I am going to share with you a few tracing and tactile tools, that are inexpensive and easy to make and take to your Orton-Gillingham lesson.  

Plastic Canvas for the Orton-Gillingham Lesson

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. 

Place a blank index card on top of 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 letter(s) you are working on (for example ur) on the blank index card with a crayon while saying the sound of the letter(s) aloud. The plastic canvas provides a fun bumpy surface that creates a lasting impression for the student.

You can then have the student trace the letters they wrote on the index card in crayon with their finger. It will be bumpy! 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. That one piece of canvas will last you for years and is light and easy.


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. You can have your student trace each letter with their fingers while saying the sound of the letter or letters out loud.  


Sand/Salt Tray for the Orton-Gillingham Lesson

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.

I made a tutorial on YouTube on how to make your own DIY Sand Tray for the Orton-Gillingham Lesson. If you want to see this video, click on this link:

>>>DIY Sand Tray for the Orton-Gillingham Lesson<<<

Edible Letters 

You probably want to save this one for the very end of the lesson, or use it as a Fun Friday treat. Write the letter(s) on a whiteboard. The bigger you make the letter the more fun it is for the student! Using candy like M&M’s, Raisons, Skittles, 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 letter sound!

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. All of the Orton-Gillingham lessons are scripted out for you, and everything you need is included. 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 or visit the website at

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