Monday, September 19, 2011

Lesson plan ideas - Letter a

Sorry for being so slow to post the most important letter of the alphabet! The letter a!

I've kept the main layout for the lesson plan as followed in the "Lesson Plan Ideas - Letter b" posted earlier. I believe the most important activity is the main activity for object identification. The blind child will truly learn the concepts through relating them to every day life, not just through the school day lessons she works on for a fraction of time in her day. Everything you as a teacher and a parent can do to 'back up' or reinforce the concept will prove most valuable. For instance, the most common word for the letter a is 'apple.' Don't just feel an apple, taste it, go to an apple orchard and pick your own or to the grocery store, make apple pie... The list goes on and on. The more ways you show the relevance of an apple in every day occurrences, the easier the child will remember her experiences with the apple and continue to learn more as new experiences present themselves. Perhaps, one day she is offered an apple flavored sucker. She will no doubt think back to her first and most recent experiences with 'apple' and be able to decide for herself whether she likes it or apple pie better!

I will follow up with extra ideas and expanded core curriculum activities in separate posts and sometimes come back to add to the end of the original lesson plan posts. So please continue to check back for updates! You are welcome to follow the Sensory Sun blog to get notifications of new posts and edits! Just click Follow on the right -------------------->

The letter a is probably the easiest braille character to teach and to learn. It is simply represented by 1 dot, "Dot #1."

Main Activity: Object identification to build vocabulary and meaning for understanding. Place all the items in a pile in front of the child. Let her explore and pick out an object to examine. Encourage her to feel it with both hands and all her fingers.( Please use discretion when she may try placing it in her mouth.) Ask how the object feels, and if she knows what it is. After figuring out the object's name, discuss what the object is used for and how it functions. Most of the objects listed below are things you probably already have in your house.

List of "a" words

apple - use real apples (organic are best!), or buy fake fruit at your local home & hobby store

Madilyn exploring an apple

Sorting activity: after you have completed the object identification activity, try sorting the objects by category- uses of objects (mealtimes and food, objects that hold other objects, things you play with), physical traits of objects (soft or hard, light or heavy, etc)... Feel free to come up with your own ideas and see if the child can too! We've found it easiest to sort objects by using only two different possibilities, then designating a certain bin or bucket for the objects to be placed. This helps with early understanding of groups.

Matching activity: use Braille flashcards and have the child match the objects with its name printed in Braille on each card.

Sensory activity: Taste test! Gather a variety of types of apples including green granny smith, red delicious, and yellow delicious. You and the child should take turns tasting the different types of apples and dicuss different characteristics of the apples. Use all your senses to explore them, then talk about the texture, shape and size, smell, and most importantly taste! Low vision students should take a closer look and examine the different colors of each apple, too. Record in a journal which apple you each like the best then review it at the end of the week. See if the student can recall which one she picked to be her favorite and why!

Find descriptions of common apples here:

Think and try all the different ways to enjoy apples! whole apple, applesauce, apple juice, etc. Get in the kitchen and bake an apple pie!

Get those little fingers busy! Build ant hills at home with damp sand in a large tub or use a material like PlayFoam by Educational Insights.

PE/physical therapy: March along to the classic song "The Ants Go Marching" - a great way to introduce counting as well! March all through the room, the house, outside... wherever ants may go!

Music activity: learn many alphabet songs to start off the journey through all 26 letters! Below are a few of our favorites just for the letter a! Hooray!

Math activity: learn about parts and fractions using slices of apples. Use several apples to demonstrate whole, half, and quarters... Even if the child is too young to remember the names for the different fractions, you may show how placing the pieces together form a whole apple. Explore the size and shape of the pieces, counting how many it takes to make a whole apple. Then eat them up- try our sensory taste test activity above!

Gather a bucket of apples and count them! Focus on how the number of apples stays the same, but the number in the bucket and in the pile changes as the child moves them from place to place. 1-10 should be plenty! Extend this activity to practice fine motor skills by counting individual apple seeds or pretend ants, moving them from the tabletop to a bowl, then counting again.

Braille writing: complete a Braille "a" worksheet. Practice writing a couple lines of the letter a, as well as "capital a" using dot 6, then dot 1. Introduce dot 1, using finger 1. Madilyn has had great success using textured key covers for easy finger placement. Please contact us via email for more on this item until we get it up as its own blog post. Also, check out our ideas for learning finger placement on the Perkins-style keyboard and the number associations of the dots within the 6-dot Braille cell.

Braille reading: Practice tracking lines of braille using a fun game like this- using dots 3 and 6, make a line of repeated characters .. placing an "apple" or "ant" - a full braille cell (all 6 dots)- intermittently in the line. Have the child track the line from left to right, counting the number of apples/ants in each line. You can also use strips of textured paper with a pretend ant glued down at the end of the line, or an embossed scratch n sniff apple sticker to smell as a reward!

Purchase our Braille Letter Puzzle for early learning at our website!

Make or buy flashcards (or touchcards, as I like to call them) with all the "a" words to practice. Buy simple braille/large print touch cards from us and save time!

Read the braille book about Johnny Appleseed and discuss the characters, setting, plot and author. Order a braille-print copy from Seedlings here!

Imagination & Play activity: Read the story about Johnny Appleseed then play pretend! Make up your own story about how,why or where Johnny Appleseed planted his apple seeds. Try planting your own seeds inside a plastic cup with soil. Place them in the window sill, water and feel them grow!

Pretend to be an astronaut on the moon or anywhere in outer space! What do you feel, smell, hear and taste? Let kids be creative and encourage all responses as good responses. Who knows! There just may be a puppy wearing a skirt, eating applesauce and drinking chocolate milk out there somewhere ;)

Science activity: Take a day to learn more about astronauts in space! Use sticker cutout stars (thick textured stars are best - find them at Walmart or a craft store) to make pictures. Try reading the book "Fancy Nancy Sees Stars" either in print or download it from iTunes for a great audio adventure! (This book is a favorite of Madilyn's, so she highly recommends it!)

Art activity: Don't be afraid to get messy! That is what sensory art is all about for children in pre-k and Kindergarten! Try painting with apple halves and puffy paints or playdoh. Make impressions of the apples and the star cores to feel over and over again.

Make a textured apple tree. Use a piece of corrugated cardboard for the trunk, a green glittered shape cutout like the top of a tree, a piece of smooth green cardstock and red crepe paper pieces. Have the student wad the red crepe paper pieces up into a tight ball to use as apples. Cut snips in the long side of a piece of green cardstock to feel like grass and glue to the base of the tree trunk of corrugated cardboard. Glue the glittered cardstock to the top of the tree trunk and then attach the red crepe paper apple 'balls' to the glittered tree leaves.

Field Trip: Take a trip to an orchard and let the child pick her own apples! Take the time to feel the tree trunk coming out of the grassy ground, then up to where the limbs branch out and the apples hang off! Let her pick it herself if she is able even if you have to hold her up (but be careful of course!). She will feel the pull from the branch as she tugs on the apple, then snap! And she has a nice yummy apple to take home. She will always remember where apples come from and can then associate this with other fruits and vegetables origins. You could even delicately explore a rotten apple on the ground, but I would recommend a squirt of hand sanitizer soon follow ;) Remember to count the apples you pick and drop in the bucket. Then count them again when you go to pay. Older kids can learn about weight and measurement if the farm calculates cost this way, too!

Another day you can take a trip to a grocery store or farmer's market and buy apples there. Explain how the apples get from the orchard to the store for people to buy. Make a math lesson out of it again with weight and cost, associating money with buying the food. Be sure to read our upcoming add-on lesson for learning about braille, money and math objectives by shopping at your local grocery store!

Here are a few other products your child might like, too.

Vtech Alphabet Apple $24.00 - or contact SENSORY SUN for a braille labeled product for $30.00 + S/H
Safari Ltd Space Toob $10.99
Disney's Tangled with Audio Description - BLURAY and DVD at Best Buy

***Always check age appropriateness of products for safety, especially when small items are involved!

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