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Activity and strategy

Grass Sock Caterpillar: Incorporating Literacy Into a Science Project

In this hands-on activity, students who are blind and visually impaired learn about seeds in a science project, while also incorporating reading and writing to develop braille literacy skills.

During ESY (Extended School Year), we had a fun project. For two weeks we grew grass in a tube sock. While ours didn’t look like the picture to the right, it was cool to look at.  
We also incorporated reading and writing into the project, so the students learned about science, handskills, and measurement while also developing their literacy skills.
I gathered our supplies:
  • dish tub
  • bag of grass seed
  • bag of potting soil
  • 2 white tube socks (to aid my student with low vision in seeing the progress with her magnifier)
  • rubber bands
  • magnifier
  • watering can
  • tray to hold the sock
  • butcher paper to cover table

We made a few changes in the original project to accommodate a dual learner.  We used white tube socks to provide contrast, and we did not glue eyes on our grass caterpillar.   In addition, we  planted carrots at the same time to compare how long it takes different types of plants to grow. 

After exploring and discussing all the supplies, we started working.

  • The first thing we did was to open the bags of soil and seeds and to combine them in the tub.
  • The students then thoroughly mixed the two “ingredients”.

Mixing the dirt and seeds

  • With another person holding the sock open, they then started filling the sock with handfuls of seed/soil mix until the sock was full.
  • They closed the sock using a rubber band.

Closing the sock with a rubber band

  • After placing the “caterpillar” in the tray, they used the child-sized watering can to water it.

Watering plant

  • They placed it on the windowsill and checked their caterpillar each day for growth and to see if it needed water.

Plant on windowsill

  • After two weeks they took their project home.

Grass seeds growing in tube sock

Incorporating Literacy

But we didn’t stop there! While their grass was growing, we went on Tar Heel Reader ( and read stories about plants, seeds, etc. Some we listened to on the computer. Others I printed and added braille to the pages for them to read. We wrote stories or answered comprehension questions.  A couple of stories that were started by a 3rd grade student can be found below. The next step for her will be to go back and edit her work before expanding the details. 
Carrot SeedIf I were a seed
The Wind and the Seed
Student wrtiing on an adapted handwriting paper with four lines and highlighted
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A Braille Letter Song by Queensland Department of Education