I am a mother of two sweet boys. My oldest, Liam, is 6 years old. He is deafblind. My youngest, Finn, is 3 years old. He has typical vision and hearing. I really look forward to the Christmas season. I enjoy finding creative ways to make this holiday special for BOTH of my boys. I hope you enjoy these 10 ten ways that you can make Christmas fun and accessible!
1. Tactile gift tags and tactile wrapping paper:
Create braille gift tags ahead of time and decorate with fun tactile Christmas stickers. Mail them out to family members ahead of time. Your child can help create them with you! This year we will also be adding braille gift tags to ALL family members gifts so Liam can help distribute gifts! Another great way to include your child is to make tactile wrapping paper (add fun stickers, puffy paint designs, fun ribbon, etc.). Wrap the presents together.
2. Embroidered stockings
I really wanted to have family stockings that included our family members name in print and also in braille. We know a sweet couple that are special to our family that graciously purchased stockings for us and used their embroidery machine to embroider our names in braille! Both boys LOVED their stockings and reading the names on them. If you don't know anyone who has an embroidery machine you could always use "puffy paint" or buttons, etc.
3. Decorate the tree together. Create an experience book about it!
This year, the boys got their "usual" little trees they were able to decorate by themselves. I allow them to touch and rearrange the decorations on their little trees as often as they like. We also have a "big" tree they can help decorate. It is our tradition to read our experience book after we decorate the tree. We add decorations into the book that we used for each step of decorating the tree. We use the same book every year however, each year we have different items in the "pockets" of Liam's book. Both boys enjoy reading and rereading the "Christmas Tree Book".
4. Christmas-themed books
Include your child by having Christmas books with tactile illustrations! You can create your own books or create a story box using books you already have at home. Last year we had a "Christmas Book Making Party" so that Liam would have an entire collection of fun accessible Christmas books. Both of my boys like to read these books.
5. Buying presents for people: Real-life experience-plan the list, buy the gift, wrap the gift
Involve your child in creating a Christmas list together of all of the people you want to buy gifts for. (You can keep it simple or add them all, depending on the level/interest of your child.) Brainstorm ideas of what you want to purchase for them and create a list. Go to the store together and buy the items on the list. Come home and wrap them together. Think of the fun (and learning!) that can be done with this activity! Also, this year we are going to try allowing Liam to sit next to the person opening their gift from him so he can feel them doing so and get in on the fun.
6. Decorations at "touch" level!
Include your child in making your home festive! Make sure to put decorations at "touch" level so that they can enjoy them too!
7. Tactile Frosting fun (Christmas trees or gingerbread houses)
Every year we make some kind of edible Christmas "craft". One year we made graham cracker and frosting gingerbread houses. Another year we made frosted Christmas trees and decorated them with different candies and cereal. This year I think I will do the traditional decorating Christmas cookies together.
8. Christmas sensory box or Christmas conversation box!
We have a "Christmas Box" Liam loves to explore. It contains all kinds of fun Christmas items that he can touch. He loves dumping out the contents and asking me about the purpose of each item. What a fun and motivating opportunity for learning about the season!
Ideas of items to include in your Christmas box:
- Christmas scented items: candles, cinnamon sticks, candy canes and a pine branch
- Christmas decorations: bows, bells, lights, garland, ornaments, parts of a Manger scene, small parts of a tree, stars, etc.
9. Explore the Christmas section at a local store.
This time of year stores are beautifully decorated for Christmas. Liam would love a special planned trip to a local store and experience the beauty himself. Liam would love to go to the Christmas stockings and feel all the different types of stockings (small, big, sequins, soft, etc.). Stores usually have a tree display. Liam and I could explore them together, feeling the different sized lights, different types of ornaments, etc.
10. Tactile Advent Calendar
There are many different tactile advent calendars out there that you could easily adapt to include your child. Here is a picture of a Tactile Advent Calendar I made for Liam. You get to add a small ornament each day of the month of December until Christmas day! The numbers are labeled in print and braille. Liam and his brother take turns adding an ornament each day. Today, I even saw a "pocket" advent calendar at Target for 3 dollars, where you could simply add braille and it would instantly become a perfect tactile advent calendar. You could put objects in the pockets to take out (or put in) each day.