These tips and tools are designed to address skills for the young beginning braille reader who is ready to start braille instruction and who has received preschool instruction on concept development. For experienced TVIs, this will be a review of ideas and activities you may already be familiar with. Many of these ideas and activities you may already be familiar with. Many of these ideas are simple, or things you already do. All the ideas and activities listed below are not necessarily my own ideas. They have been gathered over the years from other TVIs, books, and resources. I have simply pulled them together for your reference. Thanks to all those who shared their ideas with me.
Using the Right Touch
Help students to use the right pressure on braille by:
- Running fingers over a banana
- Running fingers across their arm so that they can feel the right touch
- Skimming fingers across the top of a thin layer of sand without feeling the tray underneath
- Skimming fingers across a layer of sandpaper covered with flour without feeling the sandpaper
Sort letter cards
- For example: 5 d's and 5 y's into 2 baskets
- Put name cards in order -- first/last
- Use dice and board games for letter recognition
- Copy cat: Give the student a card with braille, have them braille a matching card,and learn to paper clip them together
- Make Garages out of painted boxes (lunch size milk carton) and put a letter on the box. Put a letter on a toy car and drive the matching cards into the right garage.
- Make a cut out of a tree on a wall poster. Velcro leaves onto the tree. Have the student remove leaves and read read. This can be seasonal and modified for the skills being taught.
- Letter ladder: Put braille cards on each rung of the ladder and have the student "climb up the ladder." Put raised stars at top every time they make it up correctly.
- Create braille cell on the floor (6 dots from Twister game, add texture) and move around the cell to learn cell dots.
- Use commercial products to help
Marking letters with high dots
- Check your work using APH Sound Pages
Create games and fun activities:
- Find letters in a mini-mailbox
- APH Swing Cell
- Egg carton with plastic eggs
- Hide braille letters under Guess Who Characters
- Spin and identify
- Practice with the Language Master
- Monster days of the week eater - Pencil holder with popsicle sticks
- Days of the week Lego roller and graphing with push pins and APH individual calendar
- Monster Word Eater
- Word or Contraction Concentration
- Plan letter parties: Use rectangular crackers with cream cheese, apple butter, or frosting for a cell. Use raisins or M&Ms to make braille dots into the shape of letters.
- Decorate a reading box to help eliminate the chance of looking.
- Use small blockers: Reading glasses covered with black tape allows the student with usable vision to see but reminds them not to look down.
Creating Beginning Books (Experience Stories)
- Tactile ABC Book
- "Alex can..." & "Alex can go..." books
- You can ____
- I like ____
- I do not like ____
- I will not ____
- Dictated stories by student
- Books of lists: My favorite things, My favorite foods...
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Who Do You See? using classmate names (e.g., "I see Jordan eating with me.")
- "Who sank the boat?" -- Modify with names of friends and family
- Color books
- Number books
- Notebooks for creating stories
Games to play with peers
- Homemade and adapted games
- Use commercial game boards to create braille practice.
- Put cards along a rope. Time how long it takes to read the rope cards.
- Use large graph paper and put a letter in each box. The teacher gives directions (go down 2 and over 3). The student reads a letter. If the student is correct, they add a push pin/high dot. When complete, the push pins create a shape.
- Cut out cards in the shape of a fish and add braille. Put them in a frying pan and use a spatula to flip out a fish. Read the card and put it back in the water (use a bowl).
- Use a wooden dowel with a magnet on the end. Place braille cards with a paper clip in a bowl. Fish for the cards and read them.
Seasonal Word Containers:
- Create special cards (e.g., boo, gobble gobble) depending on the season
- Create letter and word cards (--- d ---, ddddddddddd, Mr. Nobody/names)
- Put letter and word cards in a container along with a few special cards.
- Draw cards and read them, keeping all the word read correctly.
- When drawing special cards, pass all earned cards to an opponent.
- The winner has the most cards at the end.
- Practice reading alternating the left hand and right hand.
- Take turns with the student.
- Beat the clock.
- Cut out shapes of shoes, frogs, apples, stars. Match the braille on the cards to make pairs.
Using everyday toys to create learning fun
- Building and counting, blocks, reading numbers on dice
- Bingo and popcorn holders
- Cut out cone shapes and ice cream shaped tops. Put lower case letters on cones and capital letters on circles. Match the tops to the bottoms.
- Use Velcro to hold cards in place. Begin with just a few pairs.
- Use sticky notes to cover called letters. Use graph paper.
- Place braille on a Velcro board or card. Have the student look for a particular letter. Detach the letters and earn points for each correct find.
Who's At Home Game:
- Make a house and put in names. Include Mr. Nobody (full cells). Gradually add the student's name, Mom, Dad, siblings, friends, teacher, etc. Leave a different person out of each time.
- Brailled UNO Game
- Lazy Susan spinner
Matching and sorting activities: Bins can be used for all sorts of activities. Create books with pockets for letter/word cards to find new words.
- Pocket fun: Using hanging jewelry bags for matching cards.
- Matching with 100 board: Create your own patterns
Clothes Pin Clip:
- Matching words on paper to words on clips
Star Contractions Dominos:
- Braille all of the contractions on to tiles and create a tin of all known contractions as they are learned.
Finger Isolation Songs
"The Braille Rap Song" - written by Lynn Horton and Tammy Whitten as a fun way to teach braille to their students at the Helen Keller School in Talladega, Alabama. A high-quality, professional recording is available as a free download.
“Songs for Beginning Braillists” by Denah Burnham, Beginning with Braille (p.86)
DOTS for Braille Literacy – a free, electronic newsletter with information about new braille-related products, strategies for teaching, and resources for teachers, family members, and others interested in braille literacy
Paths to Literacy - this website is a result of a joint project between Perkins and TSBVI and provides a literacy resource for teachers and families
Perkins Scout - includes a braille instruction section that provides teaching tips and resources for teaching braille
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired - includes a section on braille instructional resources
Gallagher, Patricia A. Educational Games for Visually Impaired and Sighted Children. Denver: Love Publishing, 1986.
Mangold, Sally S. and Myra R. Olson. Guidelines and Games for Teaching Efficient Braille Reading. New York: AFB Press, 1981.
Swenson, Anna. Beginning with Braille-Firsthand Experiences with a Balanced Approach to Literacy. New York: AFB Press, 1999.
Wormsley, Diane P. and Frances M. D’Andrea (Editors). Instructional Strategies for Braille Literacy. New York: AFB Press, 1997.
Un’s the One Primary Level: Uncontracted Braille Fundamentals. Ann Rash and Debra Sewell Texas School f/t Blind and Visually Impaired
Building on Patterns: Primary Braille Literacy Program: Kindergarten Kit. Louisville, Kentucky: APH, 2006.
The Mangold Developmental Program of Tactile Perception and Braille Letter Recognition. 1977 (revised 1990, 1994). Available from Exceptional Teaching Inc.
Math Builders Unit 1 Matching, Sorting and Patterning APH 7-03560-01