I use Model Magic dough with my 5 year old son who is deafblind (early braille learner) to practice basic Braille skills. I received this link a few months back that inspired me to use Model Magic for Braille work. This video link makes 'print' letters but I saw how it could easily be adapted for braille learners: http://www.yourtechvision.com/content/model-magic-instantly-make-anything
Really though, any clay or playdough would do.
Small Plastic Paint Pallet-6 well (inexpensive: can be found at hobby stores or Amazon.com) to act as your empty braille cell
Crayola Model Magic (it's a cross between playdough and clay...it's not as 'squishy' as playdough and not as hard to form thing as clay) I found my Model Magic (small bag was enough) at Hobby lobby for cheap!
Ice cube tray (I cut mine so that that the 'spaces' would total 10)
Optional: a non "slippery" surface to set the braille cells (Paint Pallets) on. I used Dycem.
I "make" a braille letter on one art pallet and then I tell my son to 'make' the same letter. In the example in the picture we are building a letter "b". I would say, build a 'b'. He would then explore the braille cell/art pallet and make his pallet match mine. Then I would have him feel the "regular sized" braille letter "b" as well. Then we would say, "B is for ball"
We use the dough for counting as well. My son likes to make snakes. So, we build a bunch of snakes and then use the ice cube tray to practice counting them. He loves squishing the snakes into the ice cube tray as we count them.