DIY Multisensory Alphabet Boxes for Special Education

Multisensory Phonics Instruction in Special Education

Using a multisensory teaching approach is an evidence-based practice that supports all students. There is a lot of evidence to supports that a multisensory approach is especially beneficial for reading instruction. 
Multisensory teaching combines visual, auditory & kinesthetic-tactile components. In reading instruction, multisensory teaching can include manipulatives, gestures, and auditory cues/ speaking to teach and learn skills. 

If you want to read more about multi-sensory learning, check out these posts:
I want to share how I made and use multisensory alphabet boxes in my classroom. I was able to find a lot of the manipulatives around my classroom, at my house or at yard sales. You can also find "trinket bags" or "I spy" online that will have a lot of little manipulatives to use!

Multisensory Phonics Instruction in Special Education

What I included in each box:
  • letter card that includes written letter and letter in Braille (you could also use puffy paint to create a textured letter on a card)
  • foam or plastic letter manipulative
  • manipulatives that start with the letter sound (I included manipulatives for hard and soft sounds)
Multisensory Phonics Instruction in Special Education

There isn't a one-size fits all for phonics instruction in our classrooms. Hopefully you have some type of assessment or curriculum to identify what phonics skills you should be targeting with each student. I'll share ideas that can be used with a variety of learners. These are examples of activities we do during our phonics instruction during reading lessons. 

Ideas for using multisensory boxes during phonics instruction:
  • name letters and say sounds of letters
  • name manipulatives and sounds
  • hold/ touch manipulatives while teacher says letter / manipulatives names and sounds
  • sort manipulatives by sounds
  • match manipulatives to the beginning letter 
  • sort manipulatives by hard and soft sounds

Multisensory Phonics Instruction in Special Education

Multisensory Phonics Instruction in Special Education

A few manipulative ideas:
A- apple, alligator, airplane, ant
B- bell, ball, bear, bee, band-aid, banana, button
C- caterpillar, cat, car, camel, cactus, crab
D- dog, duck, dolphin, dinosaur
E- egg, elephant, eraser
F- feather, flower, fox, frog, fish, firefly
G- grapes, gorilla, gecko, grasshopper
H- horse, hat, heart, hen
I- igloo, iguana, ice, iron
J- jewel, jellyfish, juice
K- key, koala, kitten
L- lion, leaf, ladybug, lobster
M- money, monkey
N- nut, net, nail, necklace
O- orange, octopus, octagon, ostrich
P- pig, pineapple, penguin, pear, pipecleaner, paperclip, panda
Q- queen, quarter
R- rabbit, rat, rhinosorus
S- snake, snail, spider, star, seal, sheep
T- train, truck, turtle, turkey
U- umbrella (I used the little drink umbrellas), 
V- violin, velcro
W- whale, walrus, wood
X- fox, box, six (alphabet number)
Y- yarn, yak
Z- zebra, zipper

I hope this gives you some simple ideas for using tactile manipulatives during multisensory reading instruction! 


  1. Where did you get the containers you used?

  2. Yes! This is exactly what I was thinking as I was planning for the year! You are amazing! Thank you for taking the time to post all your brilliant ideas! I really appreciate you and have utilized many of your free resources.