Integrating Coffee Painting into Classroom Teaching

The concept of visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning teaching to meet the needs of most students is a common thread among researchers. Students with dyslexia learn best with a multi-sensory approach and it is evident in various research studies. The multi-sensory (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile (VAKT)) teaching uses all learning pathways in the brain to enhance memory and learning. (Gadt-Johnson, 2000)

In this article, we will focus on three out of five of the well-known Orton-Gillingham principles of dyslexia intervention: Simultaneously Multisensory Approach, Emotionally Sound and Cognitive Approach. (Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, 2017)

Simultaneously Multisensory Approach

The multisensory approach of the Orton-Gillingham principle is incorporated through integrating coffee painting as a tool for teaching sight words and for the execution for spelling activities in dyslexia intervention. The integration of coffee painting largely focuses on the kinesthetic or tactile learning method as students explore an alternative way of expressing themselves. (Jeyasekaran,2015)

Emotionally Sound

As most dyslexic students tend to dislike spelling as they often struggle with it, using coffee painting as a tool for spelling and teaching sight words is emotionally sound as the combination of the therapeutic smell of coffee and the action of painting is beneficial by helping them to feel relaxed. The act of spelling, which is usually a burden, becomes an enjoyable activity. As for sight words, students will be more engaged through painting and the act of painting will help to have fun to remember the sight word that they have learnt. This activity particularly suits students who tend to show a dislike for spelling activities and can also be used as a bonding activity to tackle differentiation in classroom management. Thus, students would feel emotionally sound as they will enjoy the coffee painting spelling and sight word activity.

Cognitive Approach

The cognitive approach comes in when dyslexic students would need to pay attention to detail when they are adding or mixing the different consistency of water into the coffee powder; the amount of water mixed indirectly affects the consistency of the coffee shades. This would then directly affect the thickness of the font that they will be producing when they paint out their spelling or sight words.

Why coffee as a medium for art-making and not paint?

According to research, the aroma of the coffee helps to ease stress. Imagine combining the scent of coffee with art-making and meditation. It can be a relaxing and therapeutic experience for the students. In addition, coffee takes less preparation time and it is less messy; it is easier for parents to conduct these spelling and sight word activities at home with the students too as coffee is a household item. (Roberts and Bertsch, 1987).

The Art of using Coffee as a tool in the classroom

As students use coffee to paint out the sight word or spelling word, they get the opportunity to exercise their brain and cognitive thoughts by thinking of the different shades of coffee that they could get with varying quantities of water. In our classroom, we have always adopted teaching sight words to our students by using skywriting. Skywriting involves big muscle movements, and students need to imagine and visualise the sight word as they skywrite. With coffee painting, students are given double reinforcement of the sight word spelling, as they get to paint out the sight word itself by engaging a combination of the kinesthetic/tactile learning, emotionally sound and cognitive approach. Hence, the combination of these three Orton Gillingham approaches and incorporating coffee painting reinforces the sight word and spelling activities in the classroom.


  • Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (2017). OG Approach Principles. Retrieved from
  • Manoranjini, Jeyasekaran (2015). Effectiveness of visual-auditory kinesthetic tactile technique on reading level among children with dyslexia at Helikx Open School and Learning Centre Salem. Int J Med Sci Public Health 4, 315-318
  • Gadt-Johnson,C.& Price,G.(2000). Comparing students with high and low preferences for tactile learning. Education, 120(3), 581-585.
  • D. Roberts W. Bertsch (1987). Use of computerized pattern recognition in the analysis of stress-induced changes in coffee aroma. Journal of Separation Science, 10(5), 244 – 247.