Using Manipulatives in Reading Intervention

You know manipulatives are an effective teaching tool. The exciting news is that they're not just for math anymore. Reading Rods® are manipulatives that integrate colors, sounds, shapes and patterns so students can grasp everything from letter-sound correspondence to abstract grammatical concepts in their hands, and their minds. Reading manipulatives cater to multiple learning styles, link the abstract to the concrete and engage students by making learning fun.

Recent research shows that manipulative-based reading instruction can boost student achievement. Independent researchers found that every first-grade student in a test group who used Reading Rods increased their assessment scores significantly. In fact, students across grade levels can use Reading Rods to become stronger readers.

Craig showed significant gains after working with Reading Rods in kindergarten. When he entered kindergarten, Craig knew only 2 letters of the alphabet and could not write his name. His teacher, Marlise Tiffany, confirms that working with Reading Rods grabbed Craig's attention and helped him get up to speed. "The Reading Rods made a huge difference," says Tiffany. "Once he knew he was at the same level as the rest of the class, he grew confident. It all came together."

Second-grade teacher Lisa Jones had a similar experience with her student, Todd. Whenever the white board or magnetic letters came out, Todd would cry. But when Jones got a hold of Reading Rods, her frustrated student responded. "He thought they were fun and would say, 'Make me another word.' It was wonderful," Jones says. Even better, within 4 months, Todd went up 4 Reading Recovery® levels.

Reading Rods can be just the thing for middle-grade students as well. Sixth-grader Julie was a struggling reader who had slipped through the cracks since first grade. When her teacher, Marsha Young, attended a reading convention in Illinois, she discovered Reading Rods and went home with the Sentence Building Phonics Activity Set. "You don't think of using manipulatives with older kids," Young says, "but I thought I'd give it a try." Young believes that all her students—especially struggling older readers—can benefit from working with kinesthetic products. Julie's experience supports that belief: after working with reading manipulatives, she ended sixth grade reading at a more advanced level.

The success these teachers experienced can be yours, too. Chances are, you're already using pocket charts in your classroom. Like Reading Rods, pocket charts and cards are effective manipulatives that can be easily incorporated into your literacy centers. Students can build words with Reading Rods or select word cards, then use a pocket chart to sort Rods or cards by initial sound. Be creative! Pocket charts and other classroom materials can be effectively repurposed for manipulative-based literacy activities that students can complete on their own.

To browse literacy manipulatives and discover new ways to help your students improve their reading achievement, visit our English Language Arts section.