8 years ago my youngest son was diagnosed with Autism. He was completely nonverbal until just after his 5 birthday in kindergarten. He was also a tactile visual learner and needed hands on tools and materials to use for learning.
When he started showing interest in letters, I knew he needed something to help him with his fidget needs so that he would take a longer time focusing so he could learn what he needed to learn.
A few years earlier I had been gifted a set of alphabet blocks for my oldest son and figured that cubes with letters on it would work for my youngest son. I decided to sit down and go through sight word lists and the dictionary to make real word spinners for my youngest son to use. I started with the easier cvc words as there were quite a few of them that would be able to work for this project.
When he mastered the letters and reading the basic words, I spent hours and hours pouring over the webster and oxford dictionaries for 4 letter words and silent e words that could also be made into individual spinners. This was a real challenge and took me approximately 20 hours per each individual spinner to figure out the words for them. Once I figured out the words for each spinner, I created the spinners for him to use.
We used them in his fully integrated classroom and it was exciting! Not only did it help him with basic reading, but they also helped facilitate communication and interaction between him and his peers as they took turns going through the word lists to find the words. When I wrote stories for each of the spinners, they would take turns reading the stories out loud to him and he would look for the words on the spinners. It was so cool to find out that his classmates and him started to bond over learning toys. These spinners were the first of many items I started to make to help with his integration into his inclusive classroom.
The reading spinner sets we currently have available are here: