Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Montessori Activities to Promote Pre-Literacy Skills for Tactual Learners

Here is another resource for teachers and parents of young tactual learners!

I am always thinking in the back of my mind about "literacy" ideas to share.  Yesterday I was taking time setting up my classroom,Marble activity organizing some work, pondering who was using the specific work, are they completing it and if not, why?  I felt the urge to close my eyes and try it from their perspective to get a better idea of what they were experiencing and what was challenging to them.  I learned some invaluable things about the work and the challenges, made some adjustments so that my students could feel successful, but more importantly I realized some of the true values of these works.  



The work that I am talking about is some of my practical life work, or work trays.  These activities are a big Scooping activity part of a Montessori classroom and are activities that I have used in my classroom for years.  They have recently become a staple.... for numerous reasons. Practical life work is not specifically "literacy" activities as you would typically think of literacy activities, but there are so many building blocks that need to be in place as we help children become fluent readers... and these activities teach and reinforce all those necessary building blocks.



As I stood at my shelf with my eyes closed I realized the level of concentration it took to complete a simple tonging exercise and a simple marble transfer activity (shown above).  These activities required:  

  • high levels of concentration
  • using two hands together
  • having a plan and to work systematically to complete a task
  • using both my hands gently and carefully


All of those skills I described above are critical for fluent braille readers.... aren’t they?  Tonging exerciseThese activities are easy to create with items that you have or items that you can easily find at a thrift shop!  The activities focus on skills like transferring wet and dry, pouring wet and dry, scooping, using tongs and so much more!  They are easily adapted and created for each individual student and their ability level.





Practical life activities are things that can easily be created for use at home or school hold so much value in the child’s overall development and pre-literacy skills.  I find most of my ideas for the actual activities simply by doing an online search for "Montessori practical life activities" many things will come up.  I encourage you to create a simTwo cups for pouring activityple task, close your eyes and give it a shot... your children will love it too!!

WOW!!!  Now I see why my kids frequently take out the work, but don't always finish!!  These were intense tasks with no sight.




montessori activities collagemontessori activities collage

montessori activities collagemontessori activities collage



Always enjoy your posts:)

Posted by Liamsmom

pre-literacy tactile activities

Posted by Faye Gonzalez

I have a child in my class

Posted by Lolar

Teaching child with limited vision

Posted by Charlotte Cushman

Posted on November 17, 2013
Updated on: February 7, 2018

Previous comments for Montessori Activities to Promote Pre-Literacy Skills for Tactual Learners

Charlotte Cushman commented on October 12, 2016

Hello Lolar,

Thank you for your question.  There are many things to think about when deciding how to help a child with no vision or limited vision:

  • How old is the child?
  • Has he had his vision tested?  It's important to find out what exactly he can see and whether or not his vision condition is stable or changing.
  • Does he have any other disabilities?
  • Is there a vision specialist involved?
  • Where does he live?  Is he in the United States or another country?

Please feel free to email me at: to follow up.

Best wishes,


Lolar commented on October 12, 2016

I have a child in my class with limited or no vision. I would like ideas on how to help him.

Faye Gonzalez commented on March 10, 2014

I love these. I agree that these are in fact essential activities to develop literacy skills. As an O&M specialist, I do exercises with my students as a part of early cane skills development. All of the hand/motor skills listed above for Braille are also important for cane skills as well - so while I do these related to developing cane skills, they help with Braille skills as well. We do things like squeezing balls in our hands, bear crawls, crawling with tennis balls in your hands, Braille writer "lifts", planks, chair or wall push ups, holding therabands and pulling your hands apart, etc. So many skills are involved in making a successful Braille reader and cane user. These exercises take only 10 minutes a day.

Liamsmom commented on November 25, 2013

Thanks Katie for this post...I always am able to take something practical from your blogs and use them with my deaf/blind preschooler at home:)