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Lessons and materials

Story Bucket and Learning Activities Based on Otis the Tractor

This Story Bucket and learning activities for young children who are blind or visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities, is based on the book "Otis" by Loren Long.

This story bucket and learning activities are based on the picture book “Otis” by Loren Long.  Otis is a tractor who is best of friends with a little calf, who lives in the next barn stall over.  Otis is replaced with a big new yellow tractor, and he is cast away behind the barn… until the little calf gets stuck in the mud pond, and then it’s Otis to the rescue!   This story celebrates the power of friendship and perseverance.


What is a Story Bucket?

Story bucket for Otis and the Tractor

A story bucket is a collection of objects related to a story, which are collected and stored in a large bucket.  Much like a storybox, this makes it easier to organize the items for storage, travel, and for use in a classroom.  The objects in the bucket should relate to events and illustrations in the story, and can include expanded activities that build on the concepts in the story.  This a great way to teach many different ideas through a single story, such as counting, color matching, arranging by size order, fine motor skills, letter recognition, etc.  Integrating various parts of the curriculum into a single theme or activity can help to reinforce skills and concepts in young children who are blind or visually impaired, including those who are deafblind or who have multiple disabilities.


Apple Tree

  • Explore the shape of the apple tree, make, add and build own apple tree, create different textured leaves.
  • Add red round apples and talk about things that are round.
  • Count real red apples, sort large and small apples. 


Tree with numbers Apple tree game


Yellow Tractor and Otis

  • Explore tractors, different types and shapes.
  • Feel the steering wheel, role play driving Otis, how would it feel?
  • Would the tractor be heavy to drive, how noisy would it be?
  • Count the tractor wheels – how many per tractor, how many wheels on the yellow tractor and Otis in total?

Otis with a yellow tractor

Cow and Calf Models

  • Explore models of cow and calf.
  • Talk about where they live.
  • Talk about models and how they represent animals we can’t touch easily.


Calf Puppet

The calf puppet is made with a brown sock and a little bit of felt and two eyes. Enjoy pretending to be the calf in the story and act out what happens with Otis the tractor.

Calf puppet

Ring O Roses Ring with Ducks

  • Talk about circles and rings, and the fact that they are both round.
  • Explain the concept of the song “Ring a Roses”. (Ed. note:  Americans know this as “Ring Around The Rosey”.)
  • Count the ducks.
  • How many fit around the circle?
  • Place them on the Lazy Sue (Lazy Susan) and spin it around as if the ducks are singing “Ring a Roses’ as in the story.

Otis and Ducks on Lazy Susan

Hay Bales

Hay bales


Fire Truck, Siren, Blue Light, Ladder, Fire Officer’s Belt

Fire truck, siren, blue light, ladder, fire officer's belt

Backdrop: Muddy pool, fields, hills: 

  • Feel edge of muddy pool – circle shape, explore language of circles and curves; feel curved track around the muddy pool. Create a small dish of slime to simulate mud and enjoy exploring the slimy texture.
  • Use tactile discrimination skills to explore field textures and talking about growing crops.  Feel crop lines and troughs in ground.
  • Feel the curve of the hill; use directional language to talk about up and down dale. Place on sets of hills in front of the other to understand, further away and nearer.
  • Create the parade at the end of the story when the calf is rescued from the muddy pond by Otis.


2D Tractor Shapes

2D tractor shapes

  • Sort the tractor shapes into big and little.
  • Create a game on the Lazy Susan using the steering wheel and placing the tractors in a tin in the middle.
  • Spin the Lazy Sue and when it stops pick a tractor shape and post in big tractor bucket or little tractor box.


IKEA Hanger Activity with Tractor Wheels

Tractor wheels

  • Create some interactive games using the circle shape of the tractor wheel.
  • Play a matching game to develop tactile discrimination and shape recognition.
  • Create a game using the tractor wheels attached to labels.
  • Place in a tin in the middle of the Lazy Sue. Spin and when it stops pick a label.
  • Explore the shape on the tractor wheel and find its matching partner on the IKEA hanger.
For more ideas by the same author, visit Positive Eye!


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