Multisensory Monday- Prepositions

Over the years, I have worked with hundreds of students using the Phonics First® program. I love the multisensory nature of the program and have found ways to incorporate multisensory techniques into other subject areas, including grammar.

I distinctly remember my sixth grade teacher making us memorize a list of prepositions in alphabetical order. I can still recite the start of the list today: about, above, after, against, among, at… I remember reciting the list over and over again in class, but I never really understood prepositions. When a test question would asked, “Identify the preposition in the following sentence…”, I would start at the beginning of my alphabetical list and recite it to myself until I found the preposition in the sentence.

When faced with the challenge of teaching prepositions to my students, I reflected back on my own learning and decided that there had to be another way…a better way.

Teaching Prepositions

To teach prepositions, one must be able to identify and define them. The best way I can think to define a preposition is as a word that defines a relationship to another word in a sentence. That is not very descriptive and students do not seem to really understand that explanation. I began using this sentence with students to help them recognize and test to determine if a word is a preposition:

“A squirrel can be ____________ a tree.”

When using the test sentence, only one word may be used to fill in the blank, and that word cannot end in an -ing (as in “climbing”).  Try the following test words: beside, under, near, in, behind, below, over. These words are all prepositions!


To make this multisensory, students can create a tree from construction paper. Colorful leaves can be cut out and prepositions written on them. Students can also make a construction paper squirrel, which I like to tape to a pencil. I like to have my students turn the leaves face-down and then take turns turning the leaves over one at a time. Their pencil-top squirrel can act out the preposition while the student says the test sentence aloud.

I have had great success teaching students about prepositions using this fun and engaging activity.

Tammi Brandon, M.Ed., CDP
Tammi Brandon is a Master Instructor and Education Consultant with Brainspring Educator Academy.


Multisensory Monday- Slam! Game

Welcome to Multisensory Monday…on Tuesday!  Sometimes it is nice to spice up Red Word review!  What better way to spice things up than with a game!  This game is cheap to make and easy to play.  It can also be adapted to cover a variety of skills.


*Popsicle sticks with current Red Words written on one end

*cup or small can to put the sticks in

*timer (optional)



*Write one Red Word on one end of each stick (write the same word on both sides of the stick on the same end).

*Write SLAM! on a stick (one Slam! stick for every 10 Red Word sticks).

*Decorate a can or cup with SLAM! on the outside.



* Set a timer for how long you want to play the game. (optional)

*Each player will take turns choosing a SLAM! stick from the can and reading the word on the stick.  If they read

the word correctly, they keep the stick.

*If a player chooses a SLAM! stick, they must return all their sticks to the can!

*When the timer goes off, or the game has ended, the person with the most sticks wins!


Have Fun!


Sam Brooks, MSE CDP

Sam Brooks is an Instructor with BrainSpring Educators Academy.


Multisensory Monday- Phonemic Awareness Blending Boards

Today is Multisensory Monday!  Let’s admit it! Phonemic Awareness activities can be a bit boring! I often use Penny Push activities, Elkonin boxes, colored blocks and chips to practice segmenting (taking a word apart) and blending (putting separate sounds together in sequence).   Lately I have been searching for a fun way to liven up these, sometimes mundane, but essential Phonemic Awareness activities.

I found one that has worked wonders with my students and of course, I must share!

Phonemic Awareness Blending boards are an incredibly powerful, fun way to practice segmenting and blending sounds in words. These boards have 7 colorful animals cut into three parts (heads, torso and tails) that represent a three-phoneme word (beginning, middle and end). Students create mix-matched animals to represent the three different phonemes they hear in a word. Then they use colored chips, blocks or fun little erasers to place on the corresponding animal part. Finally, they sweep their finger across to blend the sounds together.

Three Activities Using Blending Boards:


To blend, students must put together the phonemes they hear in a word so the teacher must place the manipulatives on the animal parts as she says each sound.

  • Create a crazy mix-match animal with three different parts using the blending board book
  • The Teacher asks…

“ What word do these sounds make?”  /m/  /a/  /d/

  • The teacher places a manipulative on each animal part while saying each sound
  • The student blends those sounds together while pointing and sweeping across left to right “ m a  d”  ……”mad”
  • Repeat with different words—can change animal parts to keep students engaged!


To segment, students need to pull apart the word they hear so they must place the manipulatives on the animal parts.

* Create a crazy mixed matched animal with three different parts using the blending board book.

  • Teacher says a word: “dog”
  • Students segment the word they hear and place a manipulative on each corresponding animal part while saying each phoneme separately “/d/ /o/   /g/”    then sweeps finger across the animal left to right and says whole word “dog”

Manipulation: (advanced skill)

*  Teacher says a word “sad”

  • Teacher segments each sound in the word while placing a marker on each animal part

“ /s/  /a/  /d/ “ then sweeps finger left to right  across saying whole word  “sad”

  • Teacher says “Now change /s/ to /m/ (switches manipulative to represent changing first sound
  • Teacher asks “What word do you hear now?”
  • Student says “mad”
  • Repeat with any of the three positions (initial-medial-final or head-torso-tail)


These blending boards are available for immediate download for $5.99 by clicking the link below or you can create your own!

Have Fun!

Sam Brooks MSE, CDP

Samantha Brooks is an Instructor with Brainspring Educator Academy.


Multisensory Monday- Hoop War (ng/nk)

Concept: ng/nk Endings

Many of my students struggle to hear the difference between words that contain -ng or -nk endings (such as sung, pink, strong) and words that sound very close but do not have -ng or -nk ending (such as glen, trend, bench). Hoop War is a fun activity you can use as a quick intensive or as a longer multisensory activity to help your students hear the difference between these sounds.

A recent discovery of mine, and a now indispensable item in my teacher toolbox, are hoops made out of ribbon. For each small group of students, I keep 2-3 ribbon hoops in a Ziploc baggie.  They are a breeze to pull out and put away and provide a framework for many different kinds of small group activities.


For this game you need two ribbon hoops per small group, a large NOT card to put in one of the hoops and then 8 smaller ending cards with ink, unk, ank, onk and ing, ung, ang, ong written on them to put in the other hoop. I find it helpful to organize the endings inside the hoop, putting all the -nk endings together on one side and all of the -ng endings on the other side. This helps the students quickly scan the endings as they listen to the words. You will need to prepare a list of words ahead of time for the teacher/small group leader to read aloud (see picture below for examples of words that work well for this activity). Each small group also needs something to toss or drop, such as a bouncy ball, paper clips, bean bags, etc.


To play, the teacher or small group leader reads aloud a word from the prepared list. The student with the ball listens to the word, tries to identify if the word contains an -ng or -nk ending, and then drops the ball (or other item) into the correct hoop.

For example:

Leader: “Pick”

Student (drops the ball into the NOT hoop).


Leader: “Pink”

Student (drops the ball into the -ng/-nk hoop).


This activity should be completed after students have had lots of practice with -ng and -nk words. For a few of my students this activity was initially too challenging. A modification that was helpful was to include only the –ng words until mastered, then practice with –nk words, and finally move to practicing with both –ng and –nk words. Another modification is to give the student two similar words, telling them that one belongs in the NOT hoop and the other belongs in the –ng/-nk hoop. They just have to decide which one goes where. For example, pick/pink, stren (pseudoword)/string, truck/trunk. These modifications provide a little extra support to help your students be successful. Happy hooping!

Audrey Bon, A.B.Ed.

Audrey is a tutor at Brainspring Learning Center in Plymouth.