Sensory Templates For Early Literacy

The influence for these early literacy sensory templates is the book Find Colours by Tamara Shopsin and Jason Fulford. It features die-cut pages which you “colour” yourself by holding them over different surfaces that become the colours.

Find Colours Book EYFS Exploration reception Early Literacy

Early Literacy Activities

One of the challenging elements of special education is finding or creating motivating and engaging early literacy activities for your children. Too often children with SEND gain the label non-reader. I have seen sensory learners denied high quality literacy teaching due to the presumption of a deficit in academic ability. Phonics has a reputation as being unsuitable for SEND learners so may not be used. We should not allow this to happen in mainstream or special schools.

I am always on the lookout for ways to encourage children to engage with text. Whether this is books, through sensory play, letter exploration or sensory stories. Early literacy is not literacy taught in EYFS settings. It is the first stage of a child’s literacy journey. How to hold a book or focus when a book is read to you. This activity allows that in an easily adapted way.

Sensory Templates

This is a really simple idea that arose from the hunt for home learning activities during the COVID-19 situation. Initially I intended to recreate the book above but the card I had to hand was too thick. We made a number of simple cut out stencils that we could colour using surfaces in the garden.

Sensory Learning Visual colour finding activity

We then took this idea a stage further and found a range of sensory materials. I laid these on the table and overlaid the rocket page. After a few shuffles of material we made it look nice and tidy. My youngest was more interested in exploring. He would look through the shape to make it the colours he wanted. To make it easier for him I made them using larger squares of card. 10 inch by 10 inch works well.

Sensory tactile rocket PMLD literacy activity

Just from using the sensory template or stencil for 10 minutes we were able to devise a range of activities. For those who might use these in a planned session I outline some suggested early literacy (or even science) learning outcomes below.

Suggested Learning Outcomes

  • Shows curiosity about objects, events and people
  • Uses senses to explore the world around them
  • Engages in open-ended activity
  • Pays attention to details
  • Shows control in holding
  • Recognises colours
  • Demonstrates ability to hold and manipulate objects
  • Sorts and classifies objects by colour
  • Sorts and classifies objects by texture
Simple sensory craft idea. Tactile story ideas.

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