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Promoting Literacy through Experiential Learning about Fall

Children who are deafblind or blind learn best through experience.

Two boys playing in the autumn leavesIt’s all about the experience!  We have been using experiences to teach concepts or new ideas and vocabulary. 
It is so important, especially for our children with vision impairments, to have real-life tangible experiences!  I have a son named Liam.  He is a second grader in a mainstream classroom, and he happens to be deafblind and a braille reader.    I was thinking about the word “FALL” recently (Fall as in the season).  If he were to come across that word in a book or if it came up in conversation, I wanted to make sure he knew what the word meant.  My son doesn’t  learn incidentally as his peers who have typical vision and hearing might.  For example: his little brother may hear about the word “Fall” from one of his cartoons, hearing other people talk about it, seeing fall decorations at a store, etc.   With children who are deafblind especially,  concepts need to be purposefully taught through experience and touch.   I wanted to really focus on that word with Liam and give him many opportunities for experiences that connect with the word FALL.  
Some examples of “Fall” type experiences we have done this year so far:
  • going to the fall festival at our local petting farm
  • buying a pumpkin
  • carving pumpkins
  • going for a walk outside
  • raking leaves

A boy selects a pumpkin at a farm   A boy stands next to a carved pumpkin

Through these experiences we now have a strong basis to begin talking about the season of Fall. Connections can be made!  Leaves fall off the trees in the fall.  Leaves become dry and crunchy in the fall.  We wear a light coat in the fall.  We get to buy pumpkins in the fall and carve them.  Fall includes the months of September, October and November.  So many things that may not have held meaning for my son now do because of these experiences!  

A boy walking through the fall leaves.


Literacy Extensions for Fall

There are extensions you can now do from these experiences as well:
  • You can find and enjoy books together that follow the theme of Fall.  
  • You can write short stories or poems about Fall together.
  • You can create experience books from your activities.
  • Math, reading and writing activities can be “Fall” focused. 
  • Holidays that happen in fall (e.g. Halloween and Thanksgiving) 


Boy using braille writer with bag of dried leaves
Reading braille page about fall leaves.  Fall leaves with braille

Future Goals:

It would be great to focus on the seasons Winter, Spring and Summer as well!  What a great opportunity to learn about seasons by EXPERIENCING them!  
Collage of experiential learning about fall



Uno braille playing cards with large print
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Student making orange juice with a teacher using a juicing machine.
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mothers day plant
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