Establishing a solid foundation of early literacy and numeracy skills is a critical part of the work that we do at Rosser Elementary School. There are many ways to foster the letter name identification, letter-sound connection and blending (or “sounding out”) skills that have been shown to support reading success. These learning experiences are strengthened by intentionally weaving multiple modalities into the activity. If an activity can include seeing, hearing, feeling and speaking, the pathways in the brain connecting that information are strengthened.

In these pictures, our Kindergarten students are participating in an activity that provides this multi-modal learning experience in a play-based format. Students practice letter recognition, remembering letter sounds, and blending sounds together to read words. The blending is supported by the tactile experience of pushing the pop-it while saying the sound. The impact that it has had on helping students to blend sounds together has been remarkable. While playing, the students are focused – searching intently for the word on their boards. They work alongside their partners to blend the sounds together and they all share in the joy of correctly reading the word aloud. The hardest part is ending the game, because the students keep insisting on “One more! One more!”

Similarly, the use of multiple senses is helpful for supporting the development of numeracy skills. One way that we are doing this in mathematics is with the Multiplication by Heart Visual Flash Cards. The visuals included on these cards reinforce the abstract concept of multiplication while students engage in daily learning through repeated practice and games. With the supporting visuals, students naturally refer to multiplication using the language “groups of” – this is a subtle but important clue about the early multiplicative thinking that students are developing. The reverse side of the card shows the skip counting strategy that students can use to bridge their learning of the multiplication fact. Over time, students will rely less on the need for skip counting or other strategies as they approach true mastery.

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