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Activity and strategy

Christmas Tactile Experience Book

This example of a tactile experience book uses items associated with Christmas as a literacy experience for a girl with CVI and additional disabilities.

A tactile experience book may be created with meaningful tactile items for a child or older individual who is visually impaired or blind. A tactile experience book can be made and used for many different reasons, to recall a vacation or special holiday, to help establish a routine such as bath time, brushing their teeth, or getting dressed or preparing for a new event such as an addition to the family, flying for the first time, the first day of school or going to a new place such as an Aquatic Center.

Material needed:

  1. A blank photo album or scrap book.  A small size is easier for a child to use.  These can be purchased at many places such as Michael’s, Wal-Mart, Target, and some drug stores.  
  2. Decorate and personalize the cover of the book to fit the event.
  3. Select objects and/or items that are meaningful to the purpose of the book. When possible, let the child help decide what materials will be used.  
  4. Use strong glue (Elmer’s or for heavier things even Super Glue) or a glue gun to attach the items.
  5. Braille or print text is usually also added.  

The most important item to remember about making experience books is to have fun!


Amber’s Christmas Book

AmberMeet Amber!  She is an 11-year-old young lady with a contagious smile and laugh.  She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and cortical visual impairment (CVI).

Meet Susan Blackmon. Susan is married, has 3 daughters and one on the way!  She earned an undergraduate degree from Winthrop University and a Master’s degree from Francis Marion University.  She has been a Special Education Teacher for 14 years in Lancaster, SC and is currently providing Homebound Instruction for Amber.

Susan Blackmon

This is Amber and her Mom, Angie.  Angie has 2 children, a son, Grant, and Amber. Angie is continuing her education and will graduate with a degree as a Physical Therapy Assistant.  She would like to work with children who have special needs and their families.  

Amber with her mother Angie

Amber, Angie, Susan and I collaborated to make this tactile experience book.

Amber is non-ambulatory and does not have independent arm extension.  It was difficult to hold her while assisting her in touching the Christmas tree, lights, ornaments and presents.  So, this book was a collaboration of thoughts in order to bring “Christmas” to Amber’s lap.

  1. The cover of Amber’s book.

Cover of Amber's Christmas book

  1. The garland is to represent the wreath and Christmas tree in Amber’s home.

Christmas wreath

  1. Amber enjoys the sound of bells ringing so bells were a must for the book.  She jingled the bells, with assistance, to the song Jingle Bells or just to make all of us smile.


  1. During the winter, Amber wears flannel pajamas so we glued a piece of flannel material to the page to remind Amber of being cozy and warm.

Page of Christmas book with flannel

  1. This page is full of puffy cotton filling to remind Amber of all the snow we had.
  1. These are extra light bulbs from a string of lights.  Amber enjoyed locating and fixating on a small string of lights bunched up into a small ball and held in front of her. She enjoyed touching them with assistance.  When she touched these bulbs the first time, she looked around as if asking “where are the colors”?

Page with light bulbs

  1. Amber enjoys the cool smooth feel of ribbon being pulled across her hands.
  1. To have Amber experience the different shapes of “snowflakes” we added the foam snowflakes to her book.

Page with cotton foam

  1. Amber loves the sound of crinkling paper.  We added this page of tissue paper so she can reach out with assistance and “crinkle” anytime.

Page with Christmas tissue paper

  1. A cardboard “present” and “ribbon” covered in glitter was a tactile treat to Amber’s fingertips.  The red “present” and gold “ribbon” attracted her visual attention as those are her preferred colors due to her cortical visual impairment.

Page with glitter package

  1. A cardboard “stocking” with different colored glitter was selected so that Amber can distinguish between the top of the stocking, the heel and the toe of the stocking.

Page with glitter stocking

  1. Next is a cardboard cross covered in silver glitter.  It is in her book to remind Amber about going to church.  The silver glitter reflected the multi-colored lights and attracted her visual attention.

Page with glitter cross

  1. The final page is a bow with multi-colored curly ribbon and small bells in it.  As Amber is assisted in feeling it, the little bells ring softly.

Page with multi-colored curly ribbon


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