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Activity and strategy

Giving Back to Others: Making Tactile Valentines

Making tactile cards for Valentine's Day is a great way for students who are blind or visually impaired to practice braille and other skills from the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC).

Learning to give back or giving to others is often overlooked. This year (as in year’s past) we made tactile valentines to give out to our peers and teachers. I ordered items from Oriental Trading. The items were supposed to be like magnets or ornaments, but we made them into valentines (without envelopes). Wherever there was print, we added braille labels. 

Incorporating the ECC into Valentine Crafts

We reviewed our poster of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) and the students put clothespins by the areas that they thought we had worked on for this activity. They chose assistive technology, as they used braillers to braille the labels, as well as their list of who would receive the valentines.  They chose compensatory skills, as they wrote in braille and read the directions of how to create the items in braille. Orientation and mobility was selected, as they had to use their canes to safely find their classrooms, as well as to locate the adults on their lists. They also selected social interaction skills, as they interacted with their peers as well as adults. I tried to argue for other areas as well, but was told no. When I tried to argue my point, I was politely informed that this is their activity and this is what they are working on. I closed my lips, but thought “they just did self-determination…”

ECC Chart with clothespins marking Assistive Technology, Compensatory Skills, Orientation and Mobility, and Social Interaction Skills

Then we partnered up with the speech therapist to go deliver them. While I had been in the “front seat” with consults from the OT to make the valentines, on delivery day I was in the “back seat”. My only job was to carry the list of names and the basket of valentines. I only dropped one valentine and was told to be “more aware of my surroundings”.  Hmmmm…. Where have I heard that before?

Practicing Social Interaction Skills

The speech therapist practiced with the students what to say, what to do if the person was absent, etc. prior to leaving my room for the deliveries. It was an OUTSTANDING lesson and an amazing opportunity for the speech therapist to work with the students through many interactions, including those between children and individual adults, as well as giving a valentine to a whole group of people. 

A student hands a valentine to an adult.

While this sounds like a simple activity, it was much more. By working on the tactile valentines, we used positional vocabulary when putting together the items, e.g. above/below/next to. They had to use glue (something neither likes!) and they came up with another way to spread the glue without using their fingers. One used a spoon to spread the glue and she was one happy camper when no glue got on her hands!  There wasn’t a set location on the base of the valentine of where to glue the eyes or to put the stickers. They looked at the sample I had made to determine where to put things on theirs. Things weren’t put down perfectly, but this led to lots of discussion about how those imperfections make the valentine more special and unique. 

Valentine of owl with text  Inside of owl card says

The bottom line for this lesson was that everyone really enjoyed it!  We laughed and talked about alternate ways to do things.   We made a mess.  The best part for me was when they said this was a fun lesson, and they asked if they could do it again. My answer was “of course!”

Basket of braille valentine cards

Uno braille playing cards with large print
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