How To Help Dyslexics Learn to Spell

Dyslexia can be a speech problem that afflicts both the young and old. Children with dyslexia find it difficult to spell words correctly because they lack what speech therapists call "phonemic awareness." This refers to the awareness of the sound that each letter makes and a dyslexic child will find it difficult to separate the sounds. A multi-sensory approach to spelling will help dyslexic children improve their spelling.

Cookie Sheet Method

  • Pour a thin layer of sand into a cookie sheet.
  • Ask the student to write the alphabet in the sand using his fingers while pronouncing the sound of each letter. The feel of the sand will make the letters feel more real to the dyslexic and help them remember the sound that each letter makes.
  • Level the sand after several letters so as not to confuse the child. After that, have the child spell words appropriate for his intellectual level.

Shaving Cream Method

  • Cover the surface of the table with wax paper.
  • Pour shaving cream into a plastic bowl.
  • Using fingers, allow the dyslexic child to write letters of the alphabet on the wax paper and make the sound of each letter.
  • Clear shaving cream off the wax paper using a spatula when the surface has been filled with letters.
  • Instruct the dyslexic child to spell words using the shaving cream.

Modeling Clay Method

  • Bring out different colors of modeling clay.
  • Have the dyslexic child form letters out of the modeling clay and sound each letter that they make. While at it, ask the child to say words that begin with the letter that they are making.
  • Ask the dyslexic child to spell words using letters made out of the clay.

American Sign Language Method

  • Bring out a chart of the American Sign Language method.
  • Help the student make each letter using his hands.
  • Instruct the student to make the sound of each letter as it is made.
  • Require the student to spell words using sign language. Some schools give extra credit to children who have mastered the American Sign Language in lieu of learning a foreign language.

Matchstick Method

  • Bring out a large box of match sticks and have the child make letters out of them.
  • Ask the dyslexic to sound each letter as he completes them.
  • Have the dyslexic spell words out of the match sticks.


  • Buy alphabet and word flashcards with pictures. If you can't find appropriate flashcards in bookstores, you can make your own. Do not forget to draw pictures associated with the words.
  • Practice spelling with flashcards. The association between the pictures, letters, and words will help the dyslexic child remember them.

Research has shown that dyslexic children learn to spell better if they have made tactile and physical associations with letters. The methods illustrated above are guaranteed to evoke such associations and improve the spelling skills of the dyslexic child.


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