Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Counting in Tactile Journals

Addition problem using tactile counting aids

Tactile journals are a way for students who are blind or visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities, to describe their experiences.  They provide an opportunity for students to work on communication and self-expression in written or verbal form, in addition to the tactual representations.  In addition, they can be a tangible way for students to practice counting skills and number concepts, as shown on the pages here.


counting candles on a birthday caketactile journal page counting

In the activity on the right, the student counts a specific number of Hershey Kisses into a bag for snack.  This is a functional activity practicing left to right sequencing and counting, with an end product that can be shared with classmates or sold to others.


There is an endless list of specific items that can be used to create these, but the list below gives you some ideas to get started.
  • selection of different types of fabric
  • buttons, ribbons, glitter, herbs & spices, painted eggshells, cinnamon sticks, dried flowers, pipe cleaners, seeds, beans, feathers, tape, dried pasta
  • sand
  • different types of paper
  • popsicle sticks
  • glue (glue guns, white glue, glue sticks)
  • metal rings to hold book together
  • construction paper
  • hole puncher



Students should participate as independently as possible in each step of the process, with staff guidance where necessary.  These can be journals that follow a theme or cover a specific period of time.

  1. Ask students what some things are that they can count (e.g. children in the class, numbers of shoes, number of windows, number of musical instruments, etc.)
  2. Have them decide how they want to create a picture to show how many.
  3. The procedure will depend upon the specific materials that have been selected and what the students want to depict in their tactile pictures.


Students can show  a sequence of numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.) in a single book, as illustrated with these pages of swings.
One swingTwo swings


tactile books


Common Core and Braille Standards


W.K.2  Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.
Posted on October 3, 2012
Updated on: March 28, 2018