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Activity and strategy

Tactile Color Words Book

This post addresses the question of how to teach children who are blind about colors using tactile illustrations and braille words.

Teaching colors to students who can’t see the color can be challenging. I like to create a color sheet for each word. The image to go with the color word needs to be tactile so the student can explore it while you discuss the color. The grid under the image with the Velcro is for the student to correctly spell the color word. A variation I’ve done with this is to ask the student to spell the color word (where appropriate) two ways. I’ve either added a second grid row or offered a Velcro board with different contractions on it for the student to spell the color word using the correct contractions.

By showing the student the two different ways to spell the color word, they see two things:

  1. the importance of contractions in braille as “space savers” 
  2. helps them when using the computer, oral spelling, etc.
When choosing the items to represent each color, I wandered down the scrapbooking aisles at Michaels. I tried to chose items that would lead to further discussions. For example, the fire truck is a complex 3D sticker. We could discuss the parts of a fire truck and perhaps schedule an O&M lesson to a fire station. I tried to hit a little science, holidays, things around a home and nutrition as well. By adding a tactile image, I can work with a student on learning how to ‘read’ the image in a systematic way.

pink flower

pink – flower

red firetruck

red – firetruck

brown cowboy boot

brown – cowboy boot

white - snowflake

white – snowflakes

black spiders

black – spiders

orange pumpkins

orange – pumpkins

blue butterfly

blue – butterfly

green ivy

green – leaves / ivy

gray duct tape

gray – duct tape

yellow wooden sun

yellow – wooden sun

purple grapes

purple – grapes

An art teacher told me about two books:
  1. Hailstones and Halibut Bones” by Mary O’Neill. In this book, the author discusses the feelings (impressions) of each color that is personal to her. The students I have used this book with have all loved the book! It is available from National Braille Press in braille!
  2. The Sound of Colors: A Journey of the Imagination” by Jimmy Liao. This book is about a young girl losing her vision. She takes a cane and goes on a subway ride using her imagination to take her on a journey.

I plan to start using this with the Building on Patterns Kindergarten curriculum as colors are introduced systematically there. They have pages with images on it for the students to color. As an extension to this activity, have the student create a color page of their own! Not to create a page to color, but to collect items from their home environment that they can associate with the color being worked on.

I like to change directionality of the binding. Our students need to see that sometimes the books are bound on top as well as on the right.


color book collage


Uno braille playing cards with large print
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