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Activity and strategy

“Guess What?”: Accessible Ideas for Children with Multiple Disabilities

Ideas to make "Guess What" accessible to children with visual impairments and multiple disabilities

As part of the graduate coursework for Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities in the Teacher Preparation Program in Visual Impairments at the University of Kentucky, students were asked to complete four projects: Story Box, Picture Communication Symbols for Story Box, Tactile Communication Symbols, and Talking Book Project.

We are sharing them on Paths to Literacy and hope that others will use them!  Please add your comments at the bottom of the page. This project is based on Guess What? by Mem Fox.

I chose this book because it is a great literacy tool for beginning readers. Part of being a good reader is trying to predict what will happen next. We are taught that in school as soon as we learn to read. This book also has a lot of repetition, which would be great for a beginning braille reader. 

Story Box

Guess What? has a Halloween / Fall theme to it. I chose to use a black caldron to store my materials in.  
The materials I chose to put in my story box are as follows: 
  • Tape Measure
  • Ruler
  • Witch stuffed with cotton and rice for weight
  • Weighted monkey
  • Cat
  • Electric Hand Mixer
  • Rat Tail – cut from a toy 
  • Lizard scales – container filled with rice
  • Toy Lizard
  • Small Broomstick
These objects can be used to reinforce various concepts such as:
  • Measuring
  • Animals:  Living or Nonliving;  The different types of animals, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, etc.
  • Seasons or Holidays
  • Beginning braille 
  • Independent living skills, such as following a recipe or cleaning
tactile symbols, picture symbols, and tactile objects for a story box

Tactile Symbols

I used the following tactile symbols to go with my story box. 
  • Straw – to represent the broomstick
  • Spatula – to represent kitchen or cooking
  • Textured Fabric – to represent lizard scales
  • Artificial worm – to represent a rat’s tale
  • Artificial lizard – to represent a lizard
  • Black Cotton Balls – to represent a furry black cat
  • Fake Fur – to represent the monkey in the story box
  • Small measuring tape- to represent the large one in the story box (The story asks if she is tall and if she is thin.) 
  • Piece of a braille ruler – to represent the large one in the story box (The story asks if she is tall and if she is thin.)
  • Foam Pumpkin – to represent the fall or holiday theme of the book
Tactile communications symbols provide our students, both verbal and nonverbal, an opportunity to take an active role in literacy activities. By providing tactile information through the sense of touch, students have an increased chance of drawing meaning from the story rather than just having the story read to them. Exploring these tactile symbols helps develop literacy skills by providing practice and support in tactile exploration and interpretation. Such activities provide opportunities for discussion of vocabulary, concepts, development of hand skills, tactual exploration skills, and cognitive skills.

tactile symbols folder    tactile symbol board


Picture Symbols

I chose to use the following picture symbols:
  • Broomstick
  • Measuring Tape
  • Ruler
  • Rat (Rat tail)
  • Hand Mixer
  • Lizard Scales
  • Witch
  • Monkey
  • Lizard
  • Black Cat


Comprehension Questions:

  1. During what season does Halloween occur?
  2. Which symbols can be used to represent Halloween?
  3. Which symbols represent living things?
  4. Which symbols represent non-living things?
  5. Which symbols can you find in the kitchen?
  6. Which symbols have scales?
  7. What types of animals have scales?
  8. Which symbols can you use to measure things?
  9. Was the lady tall?
  10. Was the lady thin?
picture symbols

Talking Book

title page of talking book

Student making orange juice with a teacher using a juicing machine.
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