A Multisensory Approach
In the Orton-Gillingham method, children are taught with a multisensory approach, learning all the letters, letter combinations, sounds, and words by using all of their pathways – hearing (auditory), seeing (visual), touching (tactile), and moving (kinesthetic).
When learning the vowel combination ‘oa‘ for example, the child might first look at the letter combination on a picture of a GOAT, then close his/her eyes and listen to the sound, then trace the letters in the air while speaking out loud.
This combination of listening, looking, and moving around creates a lasting impression for the child as things will connect to each other and become memorable. Using a multisensory approach to reading will benefit ALL learners, not just those with learning differences.
Sky Writing is a multisensory activity used in Orton-Gillingham when practicing a new skill. The student is asked to stretch his/her arm out as far as possible. Using the pointer finger and middle finger, the student forms the letters in the air. This whole body experience uses the student’s muscle memory to store the information to the brain, which then is used later on when writing with a pencil on paper.
The Blending Drill is a multisensory activity in Orton-Gillingham. The Phonogram Cards are separated into three piles on a table top. The vowels are put in the middle of the pile. The student points to each Phonogram Card from left to right and blends the sounds into a nonsense word. The teacher keeps flipping the cards from the different columns to make different combinations. Nonsense words force the students to practice the sounds in isolation and also to use decoding and not memorization skills.
If you are teaching silent e then a fourth column might need to be added. You can also adjust the piles to whatever skill you are currently working on. For example if you are teaching the Floss Rule (-ss, –ll, ff, –zz) then you will put the Floss at the end of the pile. Or, if you are teaching blends such as sl, then you will put the sl at the beginning of the pile and just change the middle and end pile.