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Activity and strategy

DIY Theme Boxes

Theme boxes can be used to help children who are blind or visually impaired with multiple disabilities to develop basic concepts, expand language, and understand experiences.

Theme boxes are collections of items that are connected by an idea or concept or place, such as Winter, or Bathroom, or Car.  They are a wonderful way to learn about categories (e.g. things you wear, or things in your bedroom).  They offer an opportunity to expand vocabulary or to discuss an experience.  For example, students can explore a “beach” theme box before a trip to the beach, so that they are familiar with what they will encounter at the beach before they set out.  The same box can be then be used afterwards to discuss the experience. 

Robbin Keating Clark shares some ideas about this in her blog post.

Collections of items related to a single theme, such as:


  • hatWinter Theme Box
  • mittens
  • boots
  • scarf


  • towel
  • sunscreen
  • bathing suit                                                        
  • pail and shovel
  • beach ball


  • washcloth
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • comb
  • soap
  • lotion                       
  • diaper

Eating theme box

In a structured lesson, each student might take a turn picking something out of the theme box, identifying it, telling what it is used for, and describing how it was part of the day.  For example, “This is sunscreen.  We use it at the beach so that we won’t get sunburned.  Jodi put some on my arms today.  It feels cold and wet and sticky.  I like the way it smells.”  In addition to serving as conversation prompts, these objects can be used to write about the experience.



  • Give students a mixture of items and have them sort them into two sets, e.g. Car theme box and Bathroom theme box items all mixed together can then be separated.  Car theme box
  • Invite students to help to create a theme box.  Ask “What shall we put in our theme box for Music Class?”





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