How to Make Multisensory Teaching Materials

Four girls playing with sand in classroom
Juan Silva/Photodisc/Getty Images

Multisensory techniques are frequently used for students with Learning Disabilities (LD) Multisensory teaching techniques and strategies stimulate learning by engaging students on multiple levels. They encourage students to use some or all of their senses to:

  • Gather information about a task
  • Link information for ideas they already know and understand
  • Perceive the logic involved in solving problems
  • Learn problem-solving steps
  • Tap into nonverbal reasoning skills
  • Understand relationships between concepts
  • Learn information and store it for later recall

Why Multisensory Techniques Are Important for Students With LDs

Students with LDs typically have learning differences in one or more areas of reading, writing, math, listening comprehension, and expressive language.

Multi-sensory techniques enable students to use their personal areas of strength to help them learn.

They can range from simple to complex, depending on the needs of the student and the task at hand.

Multisensory Techniques Help Teachers Accommodate Learning Styles

Some researchers theorize that many students have an area of sensory learning strength, sometimes called a learning style. This research suggests that when students are taught using techniques consistent with their learning styles, they learn more easily, faster, and can retain and apply concepts more readily to future learning. Most students, with a disability or not, enjoy the engaging variety that multisensory techniques can offer.

Stimulating Visual Reasoning and Learning

Multisensory techniques often include visual teaching methods and strategies such as using:

  • Text and/or pictures on paper, posters, models, projection screens, or computers
  • Film, video, multi-image media, augmentative picture communication cards or devices, fingerspelling and sign language
  • Adaptive Reading Materials
  • Use of color for highlighting, organizing information, or imagery
  • Graphic organizers, and outlining passages
  • Student-created art, images, text, pictures, and video

Auditory Techniques

Multisensory techniques that focus on sound and stimulate verbal reasoning are called auditory techniques. Auditory techniques include strategies such as using:

  • Computerized text readers, augmentative communication devices; auditory trainers; hearing aids; books on tape, podcasts, and peer-assisted reading
  • Video, film, or multi-image media with accompanying audio
  • Music, song, instruments, speaking, rhymes, chants, and language games

Tactile Teaching Methods

Multisensory techniques that involve using the sense of touch are called tactile methods. Tactile methods include strategies such as:

  • Using small objects, called math manipulatives, to represent number values to teach math skills such as counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
  • Use of modeling materials such as clay and sculpting materials, paper mache to create models
  • Use of sand trays, raised line paper, textured objects, sensory putty, finger paints, and puzzles to develop fine motor skills

Kinesthetic Methods

Multisensory methods that use body movement are called kinesthetic methods. These involve fine and gross motor movement such as:

  • Preschool and primary games involving jumping rope, clapping, stomping or other movements paired with activities while counting, and singing songs related to concepts
  • All tactile activities mentioned above
  • Any large motor activity for older students involving dancing, beanbag tossing, basketball, or other such activities involving concepts, rhythmic recall, and academic competition such as current events quizzes, flashcard races, and other learning games

Recipes to Make Your Own Multisensory Materials

1 Source
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Miller AJ. Auditory, visual, kinesthetic-tactile, and multi-sensory modalities: A quantitative study of how preferred modalities create more effective teaching and learning environments. J Neurosci Behav Health. 2017;9(1):1-9. doi:10.5897/JNBH2016.0138

By Ann Logsdon
Ann Logsdon is a school psychologist specializing in helping parents and teachers support students with a range of educational and developmental disabilities.