Multisensory Monday: Phonics First 3-Part Drill Fun

Multisensory Monday: Phonics First 3-Part Drill Fun

Posted by Brainspring on 7th Mar 2022

The Three-Part Drill is an excellent way to practice previously taught sounds for reading, spelling, and fluency. After a new skill is taught it becomes part of the Three-Part Drill. In Brainspring’s Phonics First and Structures courses, you learn the basics of the Three-Part Drill and have the opportunity to practice so that you can jump right into the process you’re your students.  Once mastered, students will enjoy fun adaptations easily added to your instruction.

Visual Drill ideas:

  • Show the cards and ask specific students or groups to say the sounds (girls, boys, wearing blue, etc.)
  • Ask struggling students to become the “echo.” After the group says the sound, those students echo their response.
  • Deal the letter cards face up to students in a small group (like dealing cards in a card game). Ask each student to say the sound of the card that is dealt to them. 
  • Ask students to use fun voices as they say the sound of the cards.  Prompt them to whisper or shout the sound, plug their nose and say the sound, etc.

Auditory Drill ideas:

  • A sand tray filled with sand, rice, cereal, shaving cream, pudding, fingerpaint, etc.
  • Whiteboards or chalkboards.  Students can practice “trace and erase” by writing the letter for the sound they hear and then tracing with their finger while erasing the letter as they say it again. To keep the student’s hands clean, you can cut the fingertips off of the small ‘magic’ gloves they sell at the dollar store. Give each student a special ‘eraser’ to put on their finger.
  • Sealed plastic bags with fingerpaint, hair gel, or colored glue. Tape the bag to a piece of cardboard.
  • Sandpaper.  Using a piece of fine sandpaper, students can trace the letter, feeling its shape, but not seeing the letter.  To incorporate a visual component, provide students with sandpaper on which the letters have already been printed.  Ask them to ‘find’ the /d/ and then trace the letter as they say it. You can also include starting points and arrows for correct letter formation with this strategy.
  • Gel boards or Magna doodles.
  • Writing the letters on the carpet, their leg, or on another student’s back (they won’t be able to “see” the letters, but it is excellent practice anyway). If you say the same sound multiple times, you will have a chance to observe all the students form the letters correctly.

Blending Drill ideas:

  • Ask students to think of a longer word for the detached syllables which appears on the blending.
  • Use the echo or fun voices from the Visual Drill (above).
  • Put rimes on the blending board and have students practice rhyming by changing only the first card.
  • Ask individual students to read the board as opposed to the group reading.


Making the Three-Part Drill fun and inclusive will ensure positive practice and engagement.

Written by Ingrid Hartig

Ingrid is a Master Instructor with Brainspring’s Educator Academy

Brainspring has proudly supported the educational community for more than 25 years.

Our Educator Academy provides educators in grades K-12 with comprehensive MSL Professional Development courses. Learn more about our in-person and online professional development.

The Learning Centers support students through one-on-one, multisensory tutoring sessions. Learn more about our in-person (available in Southeast Michigan) and nationwide online tutoring.