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Tactile Bulletin Board: Cells

Create a tactile bulletin board to make cells and biology accessible to braille readers and students who are blind or visually impaired.

New Year and new units! We jumped into life science to start the new term. One of the curricular standards for fifth grade is to be able to label the parts of an animal cell and a plant cell.
After reviewing several visual diagrams and the definitions of the components, I had two sighted peers rummage through my junk box of craft supplies and dollar store treasures. They were tasked with finding objects that “felt like they should” based on their appearance. The cells were then constructed on vinyl placemats (cytoplasm) with identical items representing the same parts on both cells. For the plant cell, the cytoplasm was cut to fit within the cell wall (a turn-in basket) and also includes a plastic stencil of a flower to represent chloroplasts.
bulletin board with a Helen Keller quote along the top and two cell diagrams below. One diagram is an animal cell and the other is a plant cell. The parts of each cell is labeled.
For interactive practice, pushpins were used on label cards (click to download) as well as the cell parts to attach using rubber bands.
a tactile cell diagram with the parts labeled on a bulletin board
There are QR codes (click to download the QR codes) posted linking to a Bill Nye episode on Cells, as well as the Cell Rap, and an explanation of photosynthesis for the student to scan in and listen for more information.
Braille booklets hang below to define the parts of each cell, explain the purpose of each part, and offer a tactile diagram (PIAF). For enrichment, there is a booklet containing a brief overview of course requirements and job opportunities in cellular and molecular biology. (Why is it important to study these tiny things that can hardly be seen under high magnification?) Click to download a booklet of jokes. 
booklets hanging from the bulletin board        booklets hanging from the bulletin board
It was a lot of fun to have the outlook of peers on this project. Not only did they have ownership in the construction of the cells, but they had fun doing it!
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”  – Helen Keller
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