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" (or something like that )
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.