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Activity and strategy

Using PenFriend to Make (Formerly) Boring Flash Cards More Fun

Using a PenFriend provides auditory reinforcement to beginning braille readers to promote braille literacy.

To make flash cards that are more interesting and motivating, I like to use the technology of the PenFriend to add an audio component.  This activity provides fun practice for beginning braille learners. 
  • Permabraille sheets from APH, which make very durable, crisp, easy-to-read braille dots.
  • 3” x 5” cards:  I cut the 3” x 5” cards in half for word cards, and I use the whole 3” x 5” or 4” x 6” cards for sentence cards. I snip off the upper right-hand corner of each card for orientation. 
  • PenFriend is made by RNIB (in the UK) and is available through them or through Independent Living Aids or Maxi-Aids in the United States
  • Braillewriter
  1. The cards can be loaded into the Perkins brailler to write on.
  2. I place a Pen Friend sticker near the bottom of each card with my voice reading the letter, sign, or sentence.
  3. The student reads the card and checks his/her answer using the Pen Friend.  Students enjoy recording their own voices on the Pen Friend labels too.  
  4. I make sentence cards to supplement the material found in the Kindergarten Level of “Building on Patterns” by APH.
  5. Students can make their own sentence cards as well for even more practice.


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