Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Making Toast: A Conversation Box

My son Liam (a happy, social, deaf-blind preschooler) has an intervener/interpreter that is with him at school.  Liam’s intervener and I wanted to create a conversation box that he could use at school.  We came up with an experience Liam enjoys and a topic that would encourage conversation: making toast with jelly at our house!

Contents of toast conversation boxWhat is a conversation box? 

A box of items (in this case, items about a shared experience), that a learner can use to have a conversation with someone about the items. 


Why use a conversation box?

  • Encourages and aides in language development
  • Learner has ownership
  • Motivating for the child (it’s about things and topics that interest them!)
  • Reinforces and/or introduces vocabulary
  • You can label items with Braille (more exposure to Braille in a meaningful way!)



What is the process?

  • We came up with an activity that would interest Liam (making toast). A toaster with a jar of jelly
  • Liam communicates through ASL (American Sign Language), so his intervener signed the vocabulary during each step of the process, with enough practice and repetition that Liam was able to master each sign.
  • We then gathered a list of the items we would need to represent the items we used to make toast.  It is best to use ‘real life objects’ when possible.  Our box included a plate, napkin, plastic knife, jelly jar (labeled in Braille!), toy toaster and toy toast (Liam understands the concept of play food  and LOVES play food, however this may not be the best option for every child.  Real objects are best when possible), and a box to put everything in.   We also had our Braille labels ready in advance.


A boy makes toast



  • First, Liam and his intervener made the toast together and then ate it-Shared experience! Now they have the ‘something’ to chat about!  Immediately after, they sat down on the couch and his intervener showed him the new conversation box about making toast…Liam LOVED it!
  • His intervener took the box to school with her so the next day Liam was able to share the box with all his teachers!  What a great opportunity for interaction and meaningful conversation!!


Learn more about Conversation Boxes.


Collage of Conversation Boxes




Discussion Boxes

Posted by Linda Hagood

Posted on February 18, 2014
Updated on: February 7, 2018

Previous comments for Making Toast: A Conversation Box

Liamsmom commented on February 20, 2014

I really liked the article you shared on discussion boxes!  What really stuck out to me was the part about encouraging turn taking in the conversation!!  Always trying to 'add' more and more turns.   Thanks again.

hagood.linda commented on February 18, 2014

This is a link to an article I wrote with Kate Moss more than a few years ago about using "discussion boxes":   So glad to see the idea has evolved and grown!

Linda Hagood