Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Tactile Journals

Cover of tactile journal
Tactile journals describe activities that the students participate in, which in this case was during our summer school program.  Each week they choose one activity or event from the previous week and decide how to represent it tactually. In addition to working on writing skills, this activity helps to improve handskills, such as finger strengthening and exploration of a range of textures.  Basic concepts, such as rough/smooth, soft/hard, left/right, top/bottom are also stressed.
At the most basic level, students can begin with concrete pages where they can glue real objects from an actual activity, such as this page about setting the table.
Page from tactile journal about setting the table.
More examples of pages of tactile journals:
Photo of tacile journal page about computersTactile journal page about planting beans
Tactile journal page about making smores


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.

  1. Create the structure of the books with a given number of pages and a cover.  Students can punch holes and place metal rings through the holes.
  2. The name of each student must be on the cover and also done using different materials to represent each letter of their name.

Cover of book with the name "Jake" in different tactile materialsTactile book cover with name in different tactile materials

  1. Ask the student to tell about something special that happened last week, yesterday, this morning.  For more advanced students, this may be a complex story with multiple parts to tell about an event.  For other students it may be a single picture with sand glued on the page saying “beach”.
  2. Have the students choose the materials to best represent their story or event.  Choice making is an important part of this activity.  Some students may be able to name the type of material or fabric they want, while other students may have two types of materials placed on the table in front of them and then touch the one they want to use.
  3. Ask students to write a description of their stories.  This can be dictated or staff can assist as necessary.  These can be done in print and/or braille.
  4. Once the journals are complete, have students read them to each other and share with families and friends.


  • adaptive tools, such as adaptive scissors, hole puncher, etc. can be used.
  • Scissor Jigs, which are tools that have been specifically created to help a student to be independent.  For example, a piece of tri-wall cardboard can be used to hold a stapler in place.

tactile journals collage


Common Core and Braille Standards


W.K.1  Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic or the name of the book they are writing about and state an opinion or preference about the topic or book (e.g., My favorite book is...).
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.
W.K.3  Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.
W.K.8 With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
Posted on October 2, 2012
Updated on: January 18, 2019