Sensory Color-Coded Word Building Blocks!

This past week, our almost 5-year old daughter wrote her first unassisted poem.

So, we knew she was ready to start building more simple words!

We made the wooden sensory alphabet discs a few months ago but wanted to expand on that concept a little further.

I saw this version of word building blocks on Playdough to Plato “Word Rocket” which used stickers and markers.  We still had a bunch of fabric paint left over from the wooden sensory alphabet disc project.  I wanted to use the rest of the puffy fabric paint which would also allow the kids to trace the raised letters for an additional sensory learning experience.

We made one set of blocks in upper-case letters and one set in lower-case letters.

The letter endings were color-coded to enable early readers to match the colors to form initial word-endings.  

For instance, all first letters are RED and all word endings correspond:  “in” endings are white, “en” word endings are green, etc…

(See the end of this post for the tutorial and some printables so you can make your own!)

Our daughter started off with “pat”….

And cube turns made “pit”…

Even our three year old son, who is not reading yet, loves to touch the letters and play with the blocks….

We created two printables that show color-coded three-letter word variations that your children can use as a guide or as an error-identification tool.

Once your kids have mastered simple word-building, they can use these blocks for more advanced reading activities!

For more challenging word-building:

  • Mix upper and lower-case letters to form words in Title Case (Dog, Cat, Pig, etc…)
  • Make word endings without color-coded matches.
  • Form shorter or longer words

You can use this chart as a guide to forming your own sensory color-coded word-building blocks!

To make an upper and lower-case set, you will need:

  • 14 Wooden Blocks (Hobby Lobby  sells packs of 6 x 1.5 inch cubes for $2.99.  Buy 3.)
  • 7 Fabric Paint colors (Blue, Green, White, Orange, Black, Red, Yellow)
  • 1 multi-compartmented jewelry case ( Hobby Lobby sells one for $2.99
1)  Using the chart below, place cubes into the jewelry case and follow the chart to form letters for each side of the cube.
Important Note:  Allow fabric paint to dry completely.  This can take anywhere from 6 hours or more PER SIDE.  (You can always use markers if you are short on time and the touch-sensory aspect of this material is less critical to you).

This is a pic of completed Side 1.  I allowed it to dry for 8 hours.

Helpful Tip:  For uniformity, turn all blocks in the same direction to draw letters of the next side of the chart.

And here is Side 2 completed.  

Do this until all 6 sides are done and dry!

2)  Print the two charts below and place in a sheet protector or clear folder to include with the blocks for your child’s reference.


And that’s it!

Let us know if you try them!


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49 Responses to Sensory Color-Coded Word Building Blocks!

  1. This is fantastic. I use a lot of the velcro’ed laminated letters (to be placed on the corresponding velcro bar taped to a binder) and matching pictures for my non-verbal kiddos. But this is so much better! Thanks you for sharing!

    • Megan- That’s a great idea, too! use of laminated letters, velcro, binders and pictures? Very smart!

    • Thank you, Jen- The creativity had most to do with me not wanting to spend money on other materials to do the same thing…. 🙂 haha!

    • Adrienne- Yes- there are actually so many more than on the pages I created- I think I left off “zit”….haha! But, these are only three letter combos….so many more to find!

  2. This is awesome, we are raising a Dandy Walker child and this just might be what we need to get her to do sounds and letters….thanks for the information…

    • Veletta- I remember! I’m happy to make her her own set! I don’t know if it will help- but I bet she likes to touch the letters! Even my son loves it- and it’s hard to keep his attention, sometimes!

  3. That’s really cool. We did something similar recently, but with bottle caps. Wish I had posted it today to keep us in sync 🙂 I’ve been wanting to get blocks for this type of thing, but I’m trying not to spend any money …. we’ll see how long that lasts!

    • Chrissy- Of course you did! haha! I think bottle caps would be super fun- I actually love bottle caps! Good idea on not spending money! I’ve decided to go down the LLC road- My receipts from Hobby Lobby will be part of the LLC’s expenses. 🙂 haha!

        • Chrissy- I’m making a set (larger sized blocks) with glow in the dark fabric paint for our toddler niece- not-word building- just sensory letters and shapes. It can work for all ages. Much cheaper and more fun than trying to buy something like that! 🙂

    • Thank you, Crystal- You know- Maybe you could do some waterproof, glow in the dark word-building blocks? haha! Seriously! I bet you could figure that out!

    • Oh, thank you, adele~! I don’t know who is more excited- my daughter for learning to read- or me, for watching it happen. 🙂 It is wonderful!

    • Debs- It was a little work to make the charts- but it also helped to get myself organized to start the craft! The hardest part is the patience! I’m not a patient person- so waiting for fabric paint to dry is the most work. haha! Thank you for your comment!

    • Maryanne- my 3 and 5 year olds love them- And they travel really nicely! We’ll be taking them on our road trip!

  4. Wish I knew about this earlier – this could’ve made Kindergarten for Zuki a lot easier. Then again, we don’t have a Hobby Lobby – just a Michael’s and they’re not so well stocked. Guess index cards at the 99 cent shop will have to do…

    • Nami- They don’t have Hobby Lobby in NYC? No way! I bet they have boutique-y, pricey stores to buy the same wood blocks for 3 times the price! The good news is that Hobby Lobby is online, now! Dollar store index cards totally work, too! 🙂 And Zuki and Samu seem to be doing great! That resume was awesome! 🙂

    • Megan- I’m kind of a chart nerd- I like them a lot. haha! Thanks so much- I hope they help folks make their own!

  5. Wow, what planning and creativity has gone into this activity. I so enjoyed reading your post even though my twins aren’t up to this yet….how clever you are!

  6. thats such a great way to help kids actively learn, its very Montessori to be able to feel the raised letter. I’m so dumb though. I looked at them and thought, hey you could use those to stamp with as well – No Monko you thicko, you could not use them to stamp letters, they would be back to front.

    • really, monko? as soon as you wrote that, my first thought was that i must try using them as stamps! ha! i must be thick, too!

  7. What a fantastic project!! I’m realizing my son is ready for more projects like this so you posted at a perfect time for me. haha. Thanks for sharing! It’s very awesome of you to include such great printables too.

    • Joyce- I hope this helps you in your schooling ventures! My daughter really loves them! She gets so excited when she builds the words that match ones on the chart! Thank you for sharing it, too!

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