Every year at Perkins School for the Blind we make a tactile quilt with a different theme. These quilts allow students with visual impairments to participate in an activity which allows self-expression, while also working on handskills, sequencing, problem solving, and other basic concepts. The theme of the quilt this year was Fish and Birds, and students used their writing skills to create poems related to their quilt squares. This is a great way to combine braille literacy and art, and to integrate many skills through a single activity!
- fabric -- be sure to have a wide variety of colors and textures!
- variety of tactile items that can be added to the quilt, such as buttons, baubles, beads and more!
- Invite the students to decide whether they would like to make a bird or a fish.
- They then pick a name for their fish or bird and talk about why they chose that name.
- Students choose fabrics, cut their shapes, and then work at the sewing machine with the teacher. They operate the pedal and help wind bobbins, as the adult or sighted classmate feeds the fabric under the needle.
- After the quilt squares have been made, ask students to come up with a word or phrase for each letter of the name. The word should somehow relate to their particular feathered or finned choice. For example for the fish named SWIMMY the student chose Scales, Water, Ice fishing, Minnow, Mackerel, and Yellowtail. One of the bird choices was RON and the phrases were: Ready to fly, On top of the branch, and Nice bird.
I find that it works best to talk about the names before sewing the squares, but then actually create the words after the individual squares are sewn. That way their words correspond better with what the end result turns out to be.