I am the mother of two busy boys. Liam, 8 years old, is deafblind. Finn, 5 years old, has typical vision and hearing. I am always very excited when summer finally arrives and I get to spend a lot of quality time with them outdoors. I have created a list of fun activities that include, which I hope to complete with my boys before summer’s end. I plan to share the activities with Paths to Literacy as we check them off our list! We would love to hear if you try any of these ideas or have some summer fun braille thoughts of your own!
1. Create an Accessible Garden.
Every year we plant flowers and the boys get to help take care of them and water them. Last year I was able to purchase (through a grant) an accessible raised garden for the boys. I was able to attach braille labels to the outside of the box and also add braille labels to label each of the individual plants as well. This year Liam will help me braille the plant labels himself! A great way to inspire and support independence for both of my boys. A motivating and hands on way to learn about plants! Check out how we set up our accessible garden.
2. Take a Trip to the Library.
Take a trip to the library as a family! My boys and I enjoy going to the library and checking out books. Call ahead and see if your library carries braille books. If not, (if you live in a smaller area as we do) bring your own special books so that all your kids can be included in the library fun! I usually bring a tote full of books that he hasn’t read before and are saved for these special trips. The books could be home-made books, purchased books or books loaned from your state’s Braille and Talking Book Library. We enjoy sitting at the kid-sized tables in the library and reading our books together.
3. Visit a Petting Farm.
We are very lucky that we live within walking distance of a petting farm and I buy the boys season passes every summer so we can go as often as we would like. Petting farms are a great hands on way for the boys to learn about and enjoy baby animals on the farm. They get to pet them, feed them and even ride the horses. To include braille you could simply create a list of animals ahead of time and check them off as you find/pet them at the farm. Our farm also has a schedule of events (e.g. pig races, bottle feeding, train rides, etc.) You could braille this schedule and bring it with as well! When you get home you could write about the animals together as well: the animal’s features, what they eat, where they sleep, etc.
4. Create a Travel Book.
If you are taking a road trip to somewhere new, you could gather books about the place you are visiting. Last year the boys and I, along with grandma, took a trip to Minnesota. I created a braille book about Paul Bunyan (and a storybox to go with the book) since we were going to visit Paul Bunyan Land while we were there. See the book.
5. Read in a Special Place.
Find a new place to read every day! Bring your favorite books and read on the back porch, at the park, on the play set, etc…Have some fun choosing new places to read together! Inspiring and supporting a love for reading!
6. Set up a Scavenger Hunt Outside.
The possibilities are endless for this activity and can include the entire family! A couple of ideas that I want to try with the boys are:
a. Hide clues (braille for Liam and picture/print for Finn) throughout the back yard. The boys will have to read the clues to find where the next clue will be hidden. At the end they will find the treasure! (This could be easily modified to also be used as a fun O&M activity as well.)
b. Searching for “stuff”. Have a list of items (braille for Liam and picture/print for Finn) that the kids need to find in the backyard or at a park. They can then tape the items onto the list as they find them or put them in a collection bag.
7. Keep a Summer Journal.
Summertime is filled with fun adventures! What a motivating way to encourage writing then to write about your summer outings together!
8. Write to a Pen Pal.
Sometimes you don’t get to see your friends and teachers as much now that school is out. A perfect opportunity to practice letter writing and a real life experience with mailing letters would be to write to those friends and teachers that you miss!
9. Put Together Experience Books from Summer Outings.
Create an experience book for your child or with your child about a summer experience. Find out how to create your own experience book!
10. Set Up a Lemonade Stand.
Invite your friends to come visit your lemonade stand! There are so many ways to include braille in this activity (menus, money, signs, etc.) and also a hands-on way to learn about buying and selling, opportunity to work on communication goals, etc. I am very excited to try this one with my boys!