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Activity and strategy

Tree of Thanks

This Thanksgiving craft give students with visual impairments and other special needs the chance to write about what they are thankful for.

In celebration of Thanksgiving this year, several of my students are creating a Tree of Thanks (also available from Amazon).  We are incorporating literacy into this holiday craft project using braille and print, and pictures, tactile symbols or real objects could also be used.
 

Teaching the Concept of Being “Thankful”

Before they started on the tree, the students learned about the concept “thankful”. The speech therapist joined me in helping to teach the concept to one student.  He didn’t understand what we meant by being “appreciative”, so the speech therapist had him think of things that he was glad/happy to have in his life and things that make him feel good. She then explained how those things are what he is thankful for. 
 

Creating the Trees of Thanks

Leaf with word This student and two others created a list of 20 things that they were thankful for. Two of the students brailled their words on APH’s Braillable sheets and labels. With assistance, the labels were put on the leaves once their words were printed on them. 

Common things that the students were thankful for:
  • family
  • friends
  • teachers
  • braille
  • summer
  • technology (they listed out specific devices)
  • food

 

 
Writing what she is thankful for  A girl arranges her leaves of thanks.
 
Putting glue on the leaves  Placing leaves on the tree
 
A student glues on a leaf saying
 

Students followed directions for the creation of the trees. One student donated his tree to the Feast of Sharing at a local grocery store. His sister had created a similar tree for their home, and made braille labels for that tree, as she joins our braille lessons. The other two students took their trees home.  

 

Leaves on trees: braille, clothes, music, pool, books, summer, family, recess, writing, iPad  Finished tree of thanks with print and braille on leaves

Learning about “thankfulness” and creating holiday memories for the families to display year after year is priceless for all. Collaboration during these lessons can be vital whether it be with speech, OT, classroom teachers, even family members. This collaboration is vital to the success of these lessons and also makes them more meaningful.

 

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