Friday, March 30, 2012

Tips on adapting a lesson for a visually impaired student

Many lessons and activities are easily adapted for a blind or visually impaired child. It only takes a little time and creativity!

First, review the lesson, worksheets, and activities involved. Assess for any needed background information such as vocabulary. Sometimes a simple activity before the day of the lesson can lend much needed information for children. For example, if the lesson is about the zoo, visit a zoo first so the child can then relate the information back to the lesson later. If possible, go twice- before and after the lesson! The visit afterwards will help the child retain the information learned, as well as provide a fun confidence building activity when she is aware she already knows the answers and what to expect during the trip!

Also, adapt any extension activities such as recommend books to be read. Many children's books are available through digital formats from Bookshare or printed with text and Braille from a variety of Braille book sources such as,, and

It is also helpful to make a list of materials you, and the child(ren), will need to adapt and use during the lessons. For instance, glitter glue is great for creating raised line tactile images. Just use your imagination!

1. Braille all printed text
2. Create tactile images, raised line drawings or 3D representations of graphics
3. Clarify text or instructions that read "see" or "look at", and other visual references. Consider linking visual aspects such as color with textures or other tactile mediums
4. Adapt games and physical activities so everyone can be involved equally. Never single out any one!

It may be helpful to fill out an adapted lesson plan sheet to help organize your lessons throughout the year. You can keep track of them for years to come! Here is our ADAPTED LESSON SHEET to keep in your CUSTOM SENSORY SUN BINDER! (PDF) Feel free to download our original .pub file to personalize your sheet!

“All of our existing ideas have creative possibilities.”
Sir Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day Activities

With a holiday known for it's celebration of a particular color, I had to look to the symbols and other meanings to help explain St. Patrick's Day to my daughter. We talked about "green" as well, as I try not to leave out learning about colors simply because she cannot see them. (We can't see oxygen, but we must learn about it, right?!) Here are a few activities we did this week. Her favorite was the Rainbow Art!

ART - 3D Rainbow art

MATH - Counting gold coins
We used 3D coins with textured paper underneath to section off each part of the problem tactually.
 Each texture is different to represent each part of the number sentence!

The coins are then moved to the right of the equal sign to find the total sum!

Pot of Gold Math worksheet

Also try making different patterns using cutout with glitter glue gold coins, shamrocks and leprechauns!

IMAGINATION - Let's Dress Up!
Madilyn learned about leprechauns by being one! Here she is in her Leprechaun beard and hat.
I purchased Madilyn's hat at Michael's Craft Store, but here is a cute way to make your own paper leprechaun hat (via Pinterest).

BRAILLE - Braille name on shamrocks (mix up game)

close up

COMMUNITY - Talk about the meanings of each leaf of the shamrock – faith, hope, love and luck

In a simpler wording, the Golden Rule states "Treat others as you would like to be treated." For many kids with birth defects that may make them look a little 'different' than others, or sound different, or learn differently, this is a VERY IMPORTANT lesson to learn!
This is also a perfect time to reinforce the importance of respect and manners. We read a chapter from "Winnie the Pooh's Book of Manners" each afternoon. Available via Bookshare's Read2Go App.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Vitamin Angels Quarter Jar for Giving!

Madilyn has been loving learning about Africa. She knows about the Sahara Desert, the Serengeti, the Nile River, Madagascar, and the Great Rift Valley. She studied the four countries in/near the Great Rift Valley and committed them to memory so well I even remember them! She eagerly recites to anyone who will listen, "Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique!" The last is her favorite to say for good reason- it's just fun! However, as we researched more and more about the cultures of this area we found somewhat disturbing information about the lack of nutrients, especially Vitamin A, causing numerous cases of blindness and vision problems for the children there. It's not that I was not aware of the malnutrition in many areas of the world, but to know the statistics and think how these cases of blindness could be prevented was heartbreaking and in some ways, angered me to know that so many children, not so different than my own, were suffering in a way that could be helped. I am said to be a very empathetic person, and with that I've learned that if I don't try to help, and encourage others to do the same, the worse I feel about the entire situation. So, I try to help for the right reasons and do it in the most ethical, moral, healthy way possible.

In our search for organizations that reach out to the people all over the world that need Vitamin A to prevent blindness and infectious diseases in at-risk populations, we found Vitamin Angels ( Vitamin Angel's mission is to "to mobilize and deploy private sector resources to advance availability, access and use of micronutrients, especially vitamin A, among at-risk populations in need." And the best part? It only takes 25 cents to help a child per year! A quarter! I paid over $4 for my iced coffee this morning. That would have helped 16 children receive enough nutrients to build stronger immune systems, lower risk of disease, and survive! (And yes, I'm trying to quit the coffee addiction - knowing how money can be used for much better causes HELPS!)
Madilyn with her Vitamin Angel Quarter Jar

Madilyn is only seven years old, but I don't think it's ever too early to teach children how to help others. So today she decorated a little jar and it is now her "Vitamin Angel Quarter Jar". She gets to put in a quarter for all her good deeds, plus anything she does well like being polite, independent, and reading braille books- this has been a great incentive for her that doesn't involve sugary foods or new toys! You can help to by creating your own fundraiser page, or donate at mine if you wish! Remember, every quarter counts!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pick a Popsicle! Braille Learning Activities

Summer is still a few months away, but I wanted to share this activity that could be adapted for about any holiday or theme. Popsicle sticks have an assortment of uses I've found out! And you don't have to eat a box of popsicles to get them either. I found a package of "Woodsies" at Michaels Craft Store for about $4. Here are a few ways to use them:

Letters: Print and/or Braille letters or words onto strips of paper, then glue to one side of the popsicle stick.Use Glitter Glue to make large Braille letters, words or numbers directly on the stick if standard size braille is too small for the child. (Note: For many of the games listed below, you'll need two of each letter, shape or color.)
Different game ideas include: Make a popsicle stick with the lower case letter, as well as a stick with the capital letter to match. Match the letter popsicle sticks to the word sticks that start with that letter. Put the sticks in ABC alphabetical order. Categorize word sticks by animals, foods, and toys. Or just pick a popsicle stick from the jar and identify. Play a game of memory by turning all the sticks upside down in a grid or line pattern, then turn over two at a time until you find all the matches. For sighted children learning braille, make a set of sticks with only print and a set with only braille, then let them match the letters! This is also a great way for parents to learn!

Close up of popsicle stick!

Colors: Paint or dip one end of the stick in paint, then add the color word to the other side. This can be useful for sighted, low vision and blind children, as even blind children need to learn the names of colors. You could also match the color words to other words that are that color. For instance, match a "yellow" popsicle stick with a "sun" popsicle stick; a "green" stick to a "grass" stick, and so on...

Shapes: Adhere foam or glitter sticker shapes to one end of the popsicle stick, then add the shape word to the other side. You can also follow the same idea as with the colors for a fun matching game.

You can also combine a variety of games on one stick. Here we used shapes, colors and braille (regular and large dots) all on the same stick, then just chose different games to play rather than making a different set of sticks for each game above. Enjoy!

Foam shapes can be matched by color and shape.
Braille letters are given in standard size and large dots for learning!