8 Multi Sensory Writing Activities

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Multi Sensory Writing. It’s an activity that many of us are able do without a second thought, yet for so many of our children, it’s not such a simple task. It’s an activity that is so very important to learn, however not only can it quickly become dull and repetitive, but it involves a number of smaller skills that can be quite tricky. It incorporates language skills, organisation, motor planning, hand strength and sensory processing: all of which can be very challenging to coordinate at the one time!

The good news is – learning to write doesn’t have to be boring or extremely difficult. We can use ‘multi-sensory’ activities to make learning fun and more effective! Multi-sensory learning means that kids are engaging multiple senses at the same time. It also means that their brains are more active as they work. By using multi-sensory strategies more neural connections are made and the brain is given the opportunity to encode more information for later retrieval.

Remember this old Chinese proverb?

“Tell me and I’ll forget,

Show me and I may remember,

Involve me and I’ll understand.”

It certainly rings true! The more your child is involved in their learning experiences and the more senses they engage – the more they will understand.

Engaging Different Senses Benefits Learning

Smell
When learning with smell, not only is the olfactory system activated, but emotional memory is also engaged. This relates to a child’s positive or negative writing experience as they create memories of learning to write.

Vision
Visual learning includes watching steps modelled and using a variety of colours and different looking materials. This solidifies how letters and words look in different contexts.

Proprioception & Movement
By incorporating whole body movements and receiving input to the muscles and joints, new brain connections are made and attention to task is improved.

Touch
By having something your child can physically touch, your child will be more engaged and will learn better. Think of all the wonderful textures available to play with and get creative!

Hearing
Sound plays an important role in our learning experiences. Some sounds such as soft relaxing music or using voice to reiterate instructions can help facilitate learning whilst others can be distracting.

8 Awesome & Super Cheap (Or Completely Free) Multi-Sensory Writing Activities To Encourage Your Child:

1. Shaving cream – Fill a large, flat tray with shaving cream for your child to write in. To make things even more fun (and improve visual learning), add a few drops of food colouring! Better still, if you are not afraid of a bit of mess, smear the shaving cream on a mirror for some extra fun and giggles!

2. Draw on your back – Using their index finger, get them to write a letter or word on your back. Your job is to guess what they have written!

3. On the shower screen – Kids love this one! And parents do too – because it doesn’t take any preparation or extra time out of your day! Using their fingers, encourage your child to draw or write letters and words in the water on the shower screen. You could even get them to clean the screen by drawing with an old toothbrush! 

4. Scented play dough – So many active senses! Use scented play dough to engage your child’s sense of smell while manipulating it to make the shape of different letters.

5. Pipe cleaners – Manipulate pipe cleaners into the shape of letters and then get your child to trace the letter with their index finger 5 times.

6. Chalk on footpath – Draw the alphabet along the footpath and jump from one letter to the next. This engages the internal or ‘invisible’ senses of the vestibular and proprioceptive systems. The added bonus of stimulating these senses is that it organises the nervous system!

7. Sand tray – Much like the shaving cream, fill a tray with sand for your child to write in with their finger.

8. Finger painting – For the kids who don’t mind getting their hands ‘dirty’ – this is a fun one! Get a large piece of butchers paper, lay it on the ground and paint with the fingers! Experiment by mixing colours and practicing small letters and really large letters.

With so many different multi-sensory writing activities out there, it’s a case of finding which ones your child enjoys best. Writing is such an important life skill and you can make it fun when you’re at homebase!

Happy writing everyone!

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Hi I'm Rhiannon Crispe. I'm an Occupational Therapist, Personal Trainer and GAPS Practitioner. I created Homebase Hope - a place of positivity and possibility for people caring for a child on the spectrum. I'm here to guide you every step of your autism journey with a whole child approach.