Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Providing Direct Experience to Develop Concepts

Cover of The Beach

When teaching students to read braille (or large print...anything actually) we have to consider the concepts in the book. For example, the book "The Beach" is a simple book. It has two words on each page and each page refers to something that can be found on a beach (rocks, shells, crab, starfish, fish, and bird). While the pages don't mention sand, that needs to be addressed as well. Some students may never have experienced a beach. The concept needs to be taught in order to help bring meaning to what the student is reading.




To help students understand the concept of a "beach", I created a container with the items included (rocks, shells, crab, starfish, fish, and bird).

Container of beach items

The bird is not a "beach" bird, but was all I could find. I looked for the items in craft stores, dollar stores, and even pet stores. I found a few things, but not everything. I ordered additional items from Oriental Trading ( and Rhode Island Novelty ( The nice thing about these two companies is that I can order in bulk (12 items or so depending on the item), as I know I'll be needing the item more than the one time. For instance, I'm thinking I might have her write a beach book from her perspective...

A child exploring the sand tray

Close-up view of sand tray

Collage of direct experience


I hope my granddaughter's new

Posted by Mary Bogardus


Posted by Charlotte Cushman

Belle idée

Posted by Lopez

Posted on September 1, 2017
Updated on: February 7, 2018

Previous comments for Providing Direct Experience to Develop Concepts

Lopez commented on September 25, 2017

C'est une très belle et intéressante idée de compléter les images et les mots, par des formes, objets et même matériaux, pour les mettre en relation.

Charlotte Cushman commented on September 8, 2017

Hi Mary,

Your granddaughter is lucky to have you as an advocate!  Maybe you can share this idea with her teacher or invite her teacher to subscribe to this website to get ideas.

Good luck!


Mary Bogardus commented on September 7, 2017

I hope my granddaughter's new teacher will feel the desire to teach concepts and not just the words. Words must have meaning to have comprehension. Hoping my gd will have a great year. Her teacher grandma will fight for her!