Literacy Manipulatives

Concrete Models, Physical Representations

UDL 3.3 UDL 5.2

Literacy manipulatives are physical objects that aid understanding of concepts or processes by allowing students to physically demonstrate and see the concept or process. The use of manipulatives provides a way for students to learn concepts in a developmentally-appropriate, hands-on, experiential way. Literacy manipulatives can be used to promote reading and writing skills, particularly in the early stages of literacy development for young readers. For example, a student might use word cards (flashcards) and a pocket chart to build sentences or letter cubes to create words while isolating specific vowel sounds and consonant blends. Literacy-based manipulatives can be used to assist individual readers or in larger settings where a teacher may want to model or demonstrate a concept or process for the whole class.

Ready-to-Use Resources


Sentence Construction Strips

Literacy manipulatives for constructing complete sentences. The set includes several variations of labeled sentence strips.

Grade 2, 3, 4, 5 · Writing, Language · 2 pages


Sentence Construction Word Cards

Literacy manipulatives for constructing complete sentences. The set includes several sentence construction word cards (e.g., noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, etc.) and a set of blank cards to create your own.

Grade 2, 3 · Writing, Language · 6 pages

Implementation Tips

Multisensory Learners
For multi-sensory learners, using manipulatives in addition to other varying formats of delivering literacy content (visual, auditory and kinesthetic) may be beneficial for understanding, processing and retaining information.
Engagement and Attention
For students who struggle with focusing, using manipulatives is a great way of keeping these students engaged in their reading or writing work.
Making Your Own
Many literacy manipulatives can be homemade instead of purchased by using templates found online that can be printed on colored cardstock and then laminated for durability and reused or using classroom supplies. Forums for sharing homemade ideas can be found [[ | here ]].


Letter and Word Tiles in Word Work
During word work, students may manipulate colored tiles or cards that visually show common consonant blends to help develop their sense of word patterns for reading and spelling.
Literacy Stations
During literacy stations, a small group of students may work in one center where they read a text and then pass around a reading comprehension ball that asks questions about the plot or roll a die to ask “who, what, when, where, and why” questions to one another.
Pocket Charts for Sentence Construction
During a whole class mini-lesson on parts of speech, a teacher could build sentences on a pocket chart, with one specific part of speech highlighted on different colored cards (ex: verbs are all on pink cards, nouns are all on green).
Letter Formation and Handwriting
For young students who need tactile support with letter formation and alphabetic knowledge, a teacher can have them trace letters or words in sand (or on sandpaper), on gel boards or in shaving cream.

Related Strategies