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“The Little Red Hen”: Accessible Ideas for Children with Multiple Disabilities

Ideas to make "The Little Red Hen" accessible to students 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 The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone.


The Little Red Hen Story Box 

The book I selected to adapt was The Little Red Hen, a classic story that everyone has heard, written by Paul Galdone. The most difficult challenge was finding a book to adapt. I wanted a book that I could use in some way with all my students with multiple disabilities. 
The following are the objects included in my story box: 
  • Hen 
  • Dog 
  • Cat 
  • Mouse
  • Wheat 
  • Grain 
  • Flour 
  • Hoe 
  • Watering can 
  • House with porch 
  • Oven 
  • Cake pan 
  • Couch 
  • Chair 
  • Fireplace 
The first items I selected for my story basket were the characters: a hen, a cat, a dog, and a mouse. I found the hen at the Rural King for $4. I picked the hen with reddish tinted fur because of course the hen in the story is red. The hen has a tail, wings, a comb, wattle, and webbed feet. The dog is the same kind of dog as the one in the book. It is the most real life stuffed animal I have ever seen. It has floppy ears, a long tail, and toes just like a real dog. I selected a cat that has pointy ears, whiskers, and a long tail. I also added a collar with a bell. The mouse is small with a tail, whiskers, pointy nose, and ears. Next, I found the main objects needed for planting the wheat. The story tells us that the hen hoed the garden. I found a child-size hoe. I knew this would be an important concept to review because a student may have never heard of or know what a hoe is, whereas they may be familiar with a shovel. I also bought a watering can. I ordered wheat grain and flour and put them each in a container. I felt that it was very important to find something very close to the real thing, so I bought wheat berries. I was also able to find natural dried wheat at Hobby Lobby. The most challenging object I wanted was to have a porch. I asked my grandfather to build me a house with a porch. I knew that a porch was not an object that I could just go buy. I found a miniature chair, couch, fireplace, and oven with a cake on top to place inside the house. Although these are small objects, tactually a student would be able to process the concept of each, if they had already had real-life experience with the item.
contents of the story box including stuffed animals, a small hoe, and wheat

Implementation Ideas 

  • Object Exploration During Story Telling: While the story is being read, the student will have the opportunity to explore each of the objects in the box as they are mentioned. This will also be a wonderful opportunity to gain background knowledge needed for the Boardmaker images and tactile symbol cards.
  • Comprehension: Using objects in the story box, students can answer comprehension questions about the story. 
  • Retelling Story: The objects can be used to retell the story. The objects will also provide the students with the background knowledge needed for the picture cards and tactile symbol cards. Students can explore the object as it is being discussed/read in the story.
  • Sequencing: Using the objects in the story box, students will be able to sequence the events of the story. 
  • Picture Object Identification: Use the All in One board and put two picture cards on it (ex. Cat and Dog). Present the object to the student. Ask them which one is the dog. Have the student take the dog off the board and hand it to you. Exchange the picture for the object.  

Additional Activities 

  • Planting – You could plant flowers with your students. Reviewing the steps in the story, plant the seeds, water the seeds, etc. 
  • Baking A Cake – You could bake a cake like The Little Red Hen does in the story. 

Picture Communication Symbols for Story Box

I created 18 symbols to represented the story, The Little Red Hen, by Paul Galdone. Picture communication board
  • Little Red Hen 
  • Cat
  • Dog
  • Mouse
  • Watering can 
  • Hoe
  • Flour 
  • Oven
  • Grain
  • Wheat
  • Cake 
  • Porch 
  • Chair 
  • Couch 
  • Mill
  • Kitchen 
  • Cozy Little House 
  • Garden 
Each picture symbol card is printed on cardstock paper and laminated. A hook and loop fastener on the back. The cards are 4 inches by 4 inches with a thick, black border. The font is Arial 24 Bold. The picture symbols can be presented on an Invisiboard or All in One board.  
First, I created symbols using original Boardmaker images and only made a few changes to the color. 
picture communication symbol board         
There symbols can be used to retell the story or answer questions about the story. I would also use them with a student for object-picture identification. The student can be shown the object and select the matching image. 


  1. Who are the characters in The Little Red Hen? Little Red Hen, Dog, Cat, Mouse 
  2. Where did the mouse sleep? Chair 
  3. Where did the cat sleep? Couch 
  4. Where did the dog sleep? Porch 
  5. What did the Little Red Hen find in the garden? Grain 
  6. What did the Little Red Hen use to water the garden? Watering Can 
  7. What tool does the Little Red Hen use in the garden? Hoe 
  8. Where did the Little Red Hen plant the grain? Garden 
  9. What does the wheat turn into at the mill? Flour 
  10. What did the Little Red Hen bake with the flour? Cake 
  11. Where did the Little Red Hen take the wheat to be turned into flour? Mill
  12. What room in the house do you bake a cake? Kitchen 
  13. Where did the characters live in the story? Cozy Little House
  14. What does the Little Red Hen bake the cake in? Oven 

Tactile Communication Symbols

Using the Tactile Connections Kit from APH, I created 18 symbols to represent the story The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone.
  • Little Red Hen 
  • tactile symbol communication board Mouse 
  • Dog 
  • Cat 
  • Wheat 
  • Grain 
  • Oven 
  • Flour 
  • Cake 
  • Help 
  • House 
  • Kitchen
  • Garden 
  • Mill 
  • Plant
  • Hoe 
  • Cut 
  • Water 
The first step in this process was to look at the different categories of Tactile Connections cards. 
Category Color Shape
Person Yellow Crown
Place Red Barn
Action Green House
Time Blue Puzzle
Object White Bread
Expression Black Rectangle
Expansion Gray Scalloped
Next, I went through the book to find symbols for each category. (Note: Not all categories were used.) 
Symbol Category Explanation
Little Red Hen Person Character in the story.
Dog Person Character in the story.
Cat Person Character in the story.
Mouse Person Character in the story.
Wheat Object Main object in the story.
Grain Object Main object in the story.
Oven Object Main object in the story.
Flour Object Main object in the story.
Cake Object Main object in the story.
Help Expression The Hen asks the other characters for help throughout the entire story.
House Place Setting in the story.
Kitchen Place Setting in the story.
Garden Place Setting in the story.
Mill Place Setting in the story.
Plant Action Action involved in growing the wheat.
Hoe Action Action involved in growing the wheat.
Cut Action Action involved in growing the wheat.
Water Action Action involved in growing the wheat.
I then created a print label (Arial, bold, 24 font) and a braille label for each card. Next, I had to determine what tactile element to added to each card. 
Symbol Tactile Element Reason tactile element was selected and background knowledge needed
Little Red Hen Red feathers Hens have feathers and the title of the book tells us the hen is red.
Dog Bone Dogs like to chew on bones. It is a common object that represents a dog. (ex. dog tags shaped as bones)
Cat Bell Most cats have a collar or play with toys that have bells. I added a collar with a bell to the cat in my story box.
Mouse Bead and bread ties A mouse has whiskers on its face. I used a bead to represent the tip of the nose and bread ties for the whiskers.
Wheat Natural dried wheat I used actual naturally dried wheat.
Grain Wheat grain I used real wheat grain.
Oven Oven knob I used a piece of an oven that a student would know if they have ever used an oven.
Flour Small bag filled with cotton I couldn’t put actual flour on the card. So, I found a small bag that could represent the small bag of flour in the book.
Cake Candles Students know that you blow out candles on a cake.
Help Reflective circle sticker Student could be taught that shiny, red reflector/lights mean help/emergency.
House Popsicle sticks I used the same shingle pattern as the house I made for my story box.
Kitchen Measuring spoon You use measuring spoons in the kitchen.
Garden Green pipe cleaners in rows Gardens are planted in rows. And most color in the garden is green.
Mill Wheel toy A mill has a large fan on the building and a wheel outside moving water.
Plant Half a flower pot Students may have planted flowers in a pot.
Hoe A miniature hoe I used a miniature hoe pointed up so the student could feel the flat end on the hoe.
Cut  A plastic knife Knives are used to cut. I couldn’t fit a pair of scissors on the card and plastic would not cut the child’s finger when they feel it.
Water Metal piece shaped like a water droplet and texture. Students can be taught that a water droplet is shaped like this.
I found a clear plastic container that would store all my tactile communication symbols. I added vinyl stickers to the container including the title, a hen, cat, dog, mouse, and wheat. Braille labels were also added. 
Students can answer the following comprehension questions about The Little Red Hen with the tactile communication symbols. 
  1. Who did all the housework? Little Red Hen 
  2. Who slept on the porch? Dog 
  3. Who slept on the couch? Cat 
  4. Who slept on the chair? Mouse 
  5. What is the setting of the story? House
  6. Where does the Little Red Hen plant the grain? Garden 
  7. Where does the Little Red Hen take the wheat to be turned into flour? Mill
  8. Where does the Little Red Hen bake the cake? Kitchen 
  9. What did the Little Red Hen find while hoeing in the garden? Grain 
  10. What does the grain grow to be? Wheat 
  11. What does the wheat turn into at the mill? Flour 
  12. What does the Little Red Hen bake with the flour? Cake 
  13. What does the Little Red Hen bake the cake in? Oven 
  14. What did the Little Red Hen keep asking for? Help 
Sequencing: Using the tactile symbols, Plant, Hoe, Water, and Cut, I would ask the students to think about the steps the Little Red Hen took with the wheat. The student can sequence the steps in planting wheat.
Retelling: Using the tactile symbols, the students can retell the story. 

Talking Book

This talking book was created with Boardmaker images and adapted for children with CVI. 
first slide of a talking book power point featuring the title and author of the book
Clifford's Bedtime Book with a container labeled "Clifford's Bedtime" and a small blanket square under it. Objects include a small doll, bear, and bowl.

Book Box – Clifford’s Bedtime

3-D symbols that include a the laundry room is a hook, the school store is a couple of gold coins, and the student’s classroom is a number 3, the first number in his classroom number.
Tips and guides

3D Destination Symbols for Students with Multiple Disabilities

Activity and strategy

Sensory Friendly Storytime