My 4-year-old, deafblind son Liam goes to gymnastics every Friday; a perfect opportunity for us to have a ‘go’ at making our first experience book together.
What is an experience book?
A book that you create (with the help of your child) that can be used as a tool to help them share an experience they had.
Why did I want to create an experience book for my deaf/blind child?
- To have a story that is meaningful to him; an incentive for him to want to read it
- Gives an opportunity for Liam to share about gymnastics to his Dad when he gets home from work and also to take to school and share with his teachers and other students.
- Hands on practice sharing an experience in the past tense (vocabulary practice/social skills).
- I can choose the words, and number of words, that go on each page (in braille) to make sure they are appropriate for his level of learning and match whatever learning goal I have for my son.
How did I create the experience book?
This is not the only way to create an experience book, but this is the way that worked for us this time.
- Plan the experience you want to use for the book.
- Decide what objects you will use to represent the experience. For example: at Liam’s gymnastics class, he crawls into this huge ball pit full of foam cubes. I wanted to find pieces of foam that felt just like the cubes from class only smaller. He also walks on balance beams (holding our hands!) so I put a small piece of a wood board in his book that felt like the balance beam.
- If at all possible you want to use real sized objects, not miniatures and real life objects verses abstract. Not always possible but a good goal.
During the experience:
If we were on a hike Liam could collect the objects himself (leaves, rocks, dirt, grass etc.), but at gymnastics we can’t take home pieces of the equipment! Instead, I did the next best thing; I let him feel the objects I had collected ahead of time. Before he went on the balance beam, I had him feel the block of wood we would use in his book, etc.
After the experience:
- I had a book made ahead of time with Velcro already glued onto the objects and the book. (If you have an older child that isn’t so hard on materials, you could help the child glue the objects on themselves).
- I also had the braille written on the pages already, but if I could go back I think I would let him stick the Braille onto the pages himself!
- I let Liam put the objects on as we turned the page and I helped him sign all of the objects from his experience. HE LOVED IT!! He had ownership of the book!
Sharing the experience:
Grandma happened to be over so he got to ‘read’ the book to her and share the experience with her…he really LOVED that too! He read the book to Daddy when he got home.
We will also be sending the book to school with him to share this next school week and I can’t wait to hear how it goes! I added printed words to the side of every page as an extra explanation for people that Liam is sharing the book with. This is so they can prompt extra questions about his gymnastics experience.
You could also add pictures of the ASL signs if needed.
I was so please with the results of this experience book I can’t wait to make another one with Liam!
Other examples of experiences you could turn into an experience book:
- a walk/hike outside
- a trip to the pumpkin patch
- decorating a Christmas tree
- going to a restaurant (an adventure for us!)
- a routine that is familiar to them like getting ready for bed or an activity at school.