Wendy Drezek, Ph.D., NEISD, San Antonio, Texas
Overview and background
Braille literacy is the tool that allows the braille reader to seek and share information and affect the world through Symbols. Readiness for braille literacy develops in the whole child as that child ventures into life; it is concerned with using the body, particularly the hands effectively, with meaning that comes from risking, exploring and experiencing the world, and investing in interaction, communication and problem solving.
Emergent braille literacy includes establishing the experiential base for meaning, discovering the communication potential of Symbol and book, and acquiring the perceptual-motor Skills for reading and writing. The braille reader needs motor Skills to find and replace books, maintain posture that permits accurate tracking movements, and search for reading materials. The reader requires hands that can locate and synthesize tactile information and coordinate to use a braille writer, stylus or keyboard. The motivation for literacy resides in interest, confidence and curiosity about the world, and the ability to gain information through Symbols. All these prerequisites grow from the totality of the child's actions and encounters with the world to optimize both the production and consumption of text. Parents and teachers can assist the young emergent braille reader by creating a braille literate environment, including braille labels, specialized braille books, braille materials in the community, prebraille preprimers, and adapted print books, that affirms braille communication.
These sample units and references demonstrate some of the many ways that print books can be adapted to support braille readiness. Books can be enhanced by emphasizing sounds, singing refrains or adding actions. Meaning can be supported with story boxes, sensory boxes, real activities and play. Tactual Skills can be reinforced by adding textures and outlines. Move, Touch, Read is an informal collection of sample units and unit outlines that provide simple techniques for adapting print books, to accompany the weekly units in the APH curriculum Move Touch Do! (Drezek, 1995). The 44 units in Move Touch Do! establish the experience base for 44 basic content areas encompassing the Concepts and Vocabulary included in most preschool and kindergarten classrooms.
Each unit moves from tolerating, experiencing and participating in activity with real objects, through perceptual exploration, learning related Skills, matching and identifying, to Symbolic play and recognizing varied two and three dimensional representations including toys, models, pictures, photos and Symbols; the activities in each literacy unit parallel this sequence of experiencing the content through whole body actions, tactual exploration and a variety of progressively more Symbolic, less concrete adaptations.
Examples of explorations, adaptations and activities are:
- Drummer Hoff--sounds and rhyme,
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar--actions,
- My Five Senses--sensory box,
- The Wheels on the Bus--songs and fingerplays,
- Just Me in the Tub--story box,
- All Through the Year--object calendar,
- Pumpkin, Pumpkin--real activity,
- The First Thanksgiving--cooking and art,
- Santa's Beard Is Soft and Warm--texture book,
- Valentine's Cats--puppets,
- Caps for Sale--play,
- My First Counting Book--one-to-one correspondence,
- The Carrot Seed--story pillows.
The units encourage children to experience a wide range of adaptations and to develop the skill to learn from the unadapted materials they are sure to encounter in life.
Sample Literacy Unit Outline-Story Box
Mayer, M. & Mayer, G. Just Me in the Tub. (1994). Racine Wisconsin: Western Publishing Company, Inc.
This is a simple story about an every day activity--bathing. Since this is a familiar activity for all children, the content and meaning are, to some extent, known. When we move from tactile books and books with funny sounds, we want to make sure that the child's first exposure to books that do not have an inherent sensory component, is with content that has been consistently and repeatedly experienced.
This book uses familiar words--bath, water, tub, towel, washcloth, pajamas, clothes, wash.
The Concepts of body parts, on and off, warm and cold, and clean and dirty can be reinforced.
The book includes the Skills of dressing and undressing, cleaning up, putting things away, and bathing.
A washcloth makes an easily identifiable tangible Symbol for this book.
Introduce the book by taking the child through a bathing routine and using the language in the book in conjunction with each step. For instance, you might say , "It's time to take your bath--there are lots of things to do," paralleling the language of the book. Work through the steps-- run water, get a towel and washcloth, get clean pajamas. Try to use a linking phrase to the book, "I start with my face...then I wash my hair." Spend time on the "fun" activities--splashing, making a storm.
Make your story box, basket or bag. Gather together objects to go with each set of pages--one per set. These objects could include a towel, pajama bottoms, brush, toy and sponge. A laundry basket makes an appropriate container for the objects. Take time to explore each object, talking about how it feels, smells and looks and what it can do.
The braille text can be prepared using a braille writer, slate and stylus or computer. The easiest permanent method of inserting braille text is to braille directly onto paper and attach the braille to each page.
When you begin to read the book, hand the child the Symbol first, so that the young reader will later be able to choose stories using Symbols even before words are available. As you read each page hand the child the pertinent object and demonstrate the use. As the story becomes familiar you can read the story without the objects. Later the story box can be used for acting out the story and dramatic play.
As you read the book, lightly guide the child's hand over the braille text. With very young children, you will want to let them explore each page first, to get comfortable with feel on their own. Later you can help them follow with hands, as you read. As soon as they are enjoying reading, you want to begin modeling good book handling and scan and detect behaviors. Positive feedback, such as "gentle fingers" can be used to reinforce constructive book behavior.
This book has a frog in each picture. You can buy a set of tiny plastic frogs in a craft store and glue one on each page or use glue or textured paint to outline the frog for the older child to find on each page. Challenge the child to think of other games besides pirate ships to play in the water!
Mayer, G. & Mayer, M. ( 1992). A Very Special Critter. Racine, WI: Western Publishing Co, Inc. This book is best used in conjunction with everyday schoolroom activities. Vocabulary includes bump, ramp, pouch, book, high, ball, hide-and-seek, car. An enrichment activity includes making a car costume.
Wheels on the Bus. (1988). New York : Crown Publishers. This is an excellent book to use with the familiar song. It lends itself to doing the actions which accompany the text.
Aliki. (1962). My Five Senses. New York : Harper & Row Publishers. This book lends itself to a sensory box including things to smell, hear, taste, feel and look at. Make sure the visual stimuli are optimally interesting to the very low vision child, and include a drum, soap, cookies, milk carton, balloon, and ball mentioned in the text.
Kates, B. J. ( 1992). We're Different, We're the Same. New York : Random House. This book is good for exploring and finding body parts.
Franco, G. (1992). Baby's Book of Dressing. New York: Zokeisha Publications Ltd. make a story basket from a laundry basket and find examples of the different clothes to put in the basket. Take out each item to explore, as you read the book.
Franco, B. (1994). Fresh Fall Leaves. New York: Scholastic, Inc. This book is adapted best with an activity--go outside and do all the actions--watch, collect, crunch, run,rake, jump,make a fort, have battle, cover, leap and throw. Then repeat the activities inside. Finally, read the book acting out each action on the page.
Muldrow, D. (1997). We Love Fall. New York : Scholastic Inc. Act out the actions depicted in the book and put a sweater, rake, kite, nuts, apples, pumpkins, and pie pan in the story box.
Appleby, E. (1990). A Merry Scarey Halloween. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc. This book is ideal for a story bag in a large trick-or-treat bag. Include a plastic spider and bat, and monster, cat and vampire masks for the children to wear, candy, a small bag, and a witch hat. For the low vision child, point out the visual images of each character and the child dressed as the character.
Dudko, M. A. & Larsen, M. (1993). Barney's Hats. Allen, TX: Barney Publishing. Use this book with dress up play. You can have a hat and object for each page and act out the different roles.
Speirs, J. (1995). Hats, Hats, Hats. Racine, WI: Western Publishing Company, Inc. This book has an action component of finding the face and changing the hat. It can be reinforced with a dress-up box of hats, acting out each role--clown, king, firefighter, farmer, cowboy, sailor, pirate--and then encouraging dramatic play with the hats.
Pumpkin, Pumpkin. (See sample units.)
Hall, Z. (1994). It's Pumpkin Time! New York: Scholastic, Inc. This book can be used with a story bushel basket. Place seeds, a shovel, a pumpkin, a watering can and candles in the basket. Cut a pumpkin to make a jack-o-lantern and make a costume from a large paper grocery bag.
Child, L. M. (1974). Over the River and Through the Woods. New York: Scholastic. This book is based on the well known song. The content is taught in the Thanksgiving units. Sing the song as you read the book. The low vision child can find the color pictures of the outdoor verses and the black and white pictures of the indoor verses.
Prelutsky, J. (19982). It's Thanksgiving. New York: Scholastic. This book has short poems about the familiar activities and history of Thanksgiving. Use speed, intonation and rhythm to reinforce the content. Choose an object for each poem, e.g. a spoon for the first, dried corn for the second and let the child choose which poem to hear by choosing an object. Place all the objects in a cornucopia.
My First Thanksgiving. (See sample units.)
Santa's Beard Is Soft and Warm. (See sample units).
Ricklen, N. (1991). Baby's Christmas. New York : Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division. In a large gift wrapped box place a tiny tree, ornament, card, popcorn, light, stocking, candy cane, wreath, bell, cookie, present, train, and toy snowman, Santa Claus and reindeer. Use the story box objects to explore along with the text.
Bridwell N. (1994). Clifford's First Christmas. New York : Scholastic, Inc. This book is a good activity book--decorate a tree, wrap a present and stuff a stocking.
Marzullo, J. (1997). Christmas Cats. New York: Scholastic. Make cat puppets (See Valentine Cats model unit.). Use the cats with the objects in the story--e.g. broom, rolling pin, popcorn chain--to act out the story. The puppets provide the scaffold to transition to imaginary characters.
Miller, J. P. Little Rabbit's Merry Christmas. This is a "sniff" book. Collect a real object for each odor--piece of pine tree, gingerbread cookie, hot cocoa, apple, candy cane and cinnamon cookie--in a gift wrapped box. Explore each object by smelling, feeling, looking and tasting as you read the story the first few times. When the objects are consumed, replace them with models such as play dough cookies, a plastic apple. This creates the connection among the sniff samples, real object and models.
Baby's Special Food. (1968). Pawtucket, RI: Playskool. Make sure you taste and feel all the foods and compare them to the tactile foods in the book. Let the child do all the actions with the foods in the book.
Franco, G. (1992). Baby's Book of Eating. New York : Zokeisha Publications, Ltd. Take a large paper grocery bag and put a banana, sandwich, spaghetti, watermelon slice wrapped in foil, apple, plum, orange, corn muffin, ice cream cone, carrot, wrapped cupcake, can of peas, wrapped cookie, cup and bottle in it. Use the bag with the book, eating one food each day, the most perishable first. The foods can be paired with plastic foods from a toy kitchen or craft store, and the plastic foods substituted after 3 weeks. Use this storybag with the book.
Wilkes, A. (1989). My First Cook Book. New York : Alfred Knopf. You can use the cookie, potato, cake, bread and fruit recipes with the cooking units. The photos are colorful, realistic and life size. Find each of the implements in your kitchen and prepare the recipe. Then read the section on that recipe. Let the child choose favorites to repeat. Encourage the child to retell the sequence of steps in the recipe.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar. (See sample units.)
Ziefort, H. & Baum, S. (1996). Play Shapes. New York : DK Publishing, Inc. Let the child assist in punching out the shapes and matching them to the book. You can outline the shapes in the book with puff pen.
Disney's Pop-Up Book of Shapes. (1991). Los Angeles, CA: Walt Disney Company. The shapes in this book pop up. Get containers of each shape, e.g. a plate for the circle, a box for the square and find household items of that shape to put in the box.
Valentine Cats. (See sample units.)
The Carrot Seed. (See sample units.)
Scarry, R. (1967) Egg in the Hole Book. Racine, Wisconsin: Golden Books. This is an action book; let the child find the hole on each page. Make the path raised with puff pen markings. Find a plastic Easter egg that fits in the hole and let the child put it in each hole.
Hillert, M. (1981). The Baby Bunny. Chicago: Follett. Act out run, jump, play, eat go up and down. When you read the book make the actions with the story.
Just Me In the Tub. (See sample elaborated unit.)
Cushman, J. (1959). We Help Mommy. New York: Golden Press. Put pajamas, sock, shoe, toaster, sheet, mop, dust cloth, doll clothes, soap, clothespins, cereal box, raisin box, knife, place mat, fork, bowl, rolling pin and block in a storybox decorated like a house with window and door. Use the storybox to accompany the text. Take out each item, use it and discuss what we do with it.
Honey Bear. (1997). Twist It. New York: Modern Publications. This book is shaped like a pliers and can be used with screws and pliers to put together and take apart pieces of Styrofoam.
Sukus, J. (1977). My Tool Box. Racine, WI: Golden Press. Put a hammer, screwdriver, saw, pliers, measuring tape, wrench, flashlight, oilcan, drill bit, paintbrush and paint in a toolbox. Take out each relevant item as the story unfolds and explore it.
Baer, G. (1989). Thump, Thump, Rat-a-Tat-Tat. New York: The Trumpet Club. Make a box or pan drum. Drum loudly as the story gets louder and softly as it gets softer. Point out to the low vision child how the band gets larger and smaller as it approaches and departs. Make homemade band instruments to create a homemade band.
Rockwell , A. (1986). In the Morning. New York: T. Y. Crowell. This book has familiar activities. Let the child do an action with each page--get out, eat, push, hug, roll, walk. When you do the routines, e.g. eating, relate each to the book and the picture in the book.
Mayer, M. (1988). Just My Friend and Me. Racine, WI: Golden Books. Use this book to begin to transfer to models from real objects. Glue a small car, ball, plastic apple, piece of rope, small book and band aid on the appropriate pages.
Rogers, M. (1988). Playtime. England: Brimax Books Ltd. This book adaptation is to transfer from real objects to toys. Tape a ball, toy elephant, doll, truck, bucket and spade on the pages.
We Go To School. (See sample units.)
Williams, G. (1959). Baby's First Book. Racine, WI: Western Publishing Company. Take the child through the routines in the book, finding each object and using the phrases in the text, for example, "I hang up my pajamas." Note: The resource section includes references for making a variety of adapted books for this unit.
Pat the Bunny. (See sample units.)
Witte, P. & Witte, E. The Touch Me Book. Western Publishing Company. Feel a real table, doll, sponge, sand, glass, rubber band and sticky tape. Compare the real object to the touch objects in the book. Touch books are not necessarily meaningful without adaptation. Teach the child the relationship between the model, piece of object or texture in a touch book and the real object, before the book is read.
Pienkowski, J. (1990). Sizes. New York: Little Simon. Put all the big objects in a big box. Put all the little objects in a little box. Use the story boxes to accompany the big and little object on each page.
Demi. (1984). Watch Harry Grow. New York: Random House. Let the child feel the yarn that let Harry get bigger on each page. Find big and little shoes, hats, socks, pans and plates in the house. To make the transition to a character (Harry) that may not be able to be experienced "hands-on", make a sock puppet that can "grow" (See The Very Hungry Caterpillar).
Hoban, T. (1979). One Little Kitten. New York: Scholastic Book Services. After experiencing a real kitten, make a kitten puppet from a paper bag (See Valentine Cats.) and let the child place the puppet in each relationship, e.g. behind the broom.
What's In the Box?(1995). New York: Convent Garden Books. Open and close the flaps. Glue something interesting to feel under each flap. Save a duplicate to put in a box. Open and close the box and find what's in it.
Albee, S. (1996). Allegra's Colors! New York: Simon & Schuster. Visit a grocery store and find each item and note the color. Make matching color cards for each color.
Vasilak, S. (1991). Numbers. New York: Modern Publishing. This book is good for relating the numerals and sets which are clearly represented. You can also use it to relate models to objects by gluing model or toy nuts, pine cones, mushrooms etc to correspond with each picture.
Moore, L. (1957). My First Counting Book. Racine, WI: Western Publishing Company. These books are good for one-to-one correspondence. put an adhesive velcro tab on each object. Make a set of counters with complementary tabs. On each page the child can put a counter on each tab.
Abc. (1994). New York: Random House. This book has one clear color photo per page. Find and explore as many of these objects as possible in the house. Glue the braille letter and word on each page. Make a set of matching braille letter cards for matching.
Younger, J. (1982). The Fire Engine Book. Racine, WI: Western Publishing Co. This book experience should be built around a trip to the fire station. Find each object on the equipment page when you visit the fire station. If possible, let the child explore the station, trucks and clothing hands-on. Bring the book to the station to link each real object to the picture and language in the text. If the child has a toy fire station or fire engine, encourage representational play with these toys.
Miryam. (1950). The Happy Man and His Dump Truck. Racine, WI: Western Publishing Company. This is another action book that can be adapted using toys and model animals. Let the child dump the animals in the truck at each dumping episode in the story. Notice if the child anticipates the dumping after repeated exposure.
Reiser, L. (1995). Good Morning, Farm. Grand Haven, MI: School Zone Publishing. This book has clear colorful pictures and simple text. It can be used with the Fisher-Price farm set. This book can be used first with a field trip to a petting zoo farm and then with the toy to develop Symbolic play.
May be less meaningful to children with visual impairment, since many toys feel alike. Representational and dramatic play are crucial social, cognitive and linguistic prerequisites to understanding meaning and storylines. This book links the world to the toy and text.
Krasilovsky, P. (1962). The Very Little Boy. New York: Doubleday. This story brings together Concepts and Vocabulary from previous units. Try reading it with only the braille. Ask the child to tell you ways the child is big and little.
Anglund, J. W. (1992). A Child's Year. Racine, WI: Western Publishing Company Take a one page calendar and glue each item on the month--knit cap, valentine, kite, umbrella, flower, veil, flag, shovel, slate, pumpkin, plate and candy cane--forming an object calendar. Use this calendar through the year to develop the concept of the annual cycle of time and activity. Make sure each item is explored through activity and then connected to the page in the book and the calendar.
Hill, E. (1989). Spot Looks at the Weather. London: Ventura Publishing Ltd. Make a story box with the different objects--kite, umbrella, cup, knit cap. Feel each object as the page is read.
1) Literacy Unit - Relating a book to a familiar activity with a story bag
We Go to School by E. Hathon, (1992), Random House.
The purpose of this book activity is to help the child make the connection between familiar activities in life and stories in books using a story bag with real objects as a link between the activity and the book.
play, sing paint, clean up, roll sleeves, snack, story coats
predicting order in the environment
tolerate "reading" braille text
Make sure you always do the real activity and explore the real objects before you explore your storybag object. Build with blocks, strum guitar, paint, wash hands, eat cupcake, dig sand, read book, shake sheet and put on jacket.
Then explore each of the items for your bag, remembering to relate them to the real objects--lego, airplane, juice box, lunch box, bucket and mattress.
After you have done all the activities and felt all the objects, place a block, paint brush, soap, cupcake, cup shovel, book pillowcase, jacket, juice box and plane in a school bag. As you read each page take out the related object to feel. Braille a key word on each page and glue it on the pages. Let the child "read" the words as you read the story.
Make an object clock by taping small objects for your daily routine on a cardboard circle.
2) Literacy Unit --Using a touch book with a story box
Pat the Bunny by D. Kunhardt, (no date), New York, Golden Press
The purpose of this unit is to introduce books. Even a touch book needs to be reinforced with the real object. This kind of unit teaches the child to understand the relationship between real objects and activities and the tactual representation in books.
pat, bunny, peekaboo, smell, flower, mirror, feel scratchy, face, look, read, book finger, ring, bye bye
smell, feel, look, read
pat, play peek-a-boo, finger extension, wave
First do the activities related to each page. Then assemble a story box with bunny, scarf, plastic flower, perfume sample, mirror, sand paper, book and ring--practice playing peek-a-boo, smelling real flowers, looking in mirror, feeling cheek, reading book, putting on ring and waving.
Explore each object in the storybox and book and talk about how it feels (soft, furry, thin, bumpy, smooth, scratchy, round, hole). Compare each to the real object.
As you read each page take out the related objects and do the related action; place all the items in the box and wave bye bye. Let the child "read" the braille on each page of text.
Visit a pet store and feel a real bunny. Compare this bunny to the toy bunny.
3) Literacy Unit--Relating a book to the activity by adapting the pages with objects from a story bag
Pumpkin, Pumpkin by J. Titherington, (1986), New York, Mulberry Press
The purpose of this unit is to read about an activity we do in class or at home and transition from a story bag to representational objects on a page. Children with visual impairment cannot be assumed to understand spontaneously the relationship between an object acted upon and each level of representation--another object attached to a page, a model or toy object, a portion of an object, a texture or outline representing an object. Each relationship should be taught explicitly. The adult provides a carefully and systematically constructed scaffold of meaning and relationship that teaches the child simultaneously how to analyze and construct and interpret representation.
pumpkin seed, plant, scoop, pulp, face, window
touch something messy
pumpkin trick-or-treat carrier
Shop for a pumpkin, carve the pumpkin and plant the seeds. As you do each activity, use the language of the text and show the related pictures.
In the store feel different sized pumpkins (big, bigger, biggest), feel parts of pumpkins. If you have access to a garden feel the parts of plants and how they grow from the soil. Explore all the parts of the shovel, watering can, pumpkin and knife, pointing out key features like the spout, handle, blade, stem, pulp.
Place a packet of pumpkin seeds, plastic plant, mini pumpkin and plastic knife in the carrier. Let the child feel each object as you read the story. Then tape each object into the book.
Relate the face parts on the jack-o-lantern to the child's face. Make a jack-o-lantern mask.
4) Literacy Unit--Relating activities to an adapted book
My First Thanksgiving by T. dePaola, (1972), New York, G. P. Putnam Sons
The purpose of this unit is to relate activities to a historical event and move from story boxes to pages adapted with objects that are not necessarily identical to the complete real object. This unit adaptation includes objects, model or toy objects and portions of objects.
food, hands, turkey, kitchen, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, mince pie, thank you
trace hands, assist cooking, self feeding
As always, first do the real activities, pairing them with the text and pictures--carry food on the tray, make hand print turkeys, cook.
Go shopping for the Thanksgiving meal. Find some of the foods and feel them. How do they look, feel and smell in the store? Compare how Thanksgiving foods are the same and different in the store, packaged, uncooked and cooked.
Tape on the appropriate pages a stuffing wrapper, mini Indian corn, crayon, spoon, mini pie pan, napkin. Put a duplicate set of objects on the tray. As you read, find the object on each page and match it to the objects on the tray.
Visit a petting zoo or feed store and feel a real turkey. Let your child help shop for, prepare, serve and eat the Thanksgiving meal.
5) Literacy Unit - Enhancing a touch book with real objects
Santa's Beard Is Soft and Warm by B. Ottum and J. Wood, (1974), Racine, Wisconsin, Western Publishing Company
The purpose of this unit is to move from a story box to an adapted touch book and adaptation with textures and parts of objects. Touch books can be very abstract with models, parts of objects, textures or sniff dots. The child must be taught systematically to understand each of these stimuli in relationship to the complete real object and activity.
pine tree, round, smooth, bright, package, paper, ribbon, blanket, basket, bear, fuzzy, snap, stocking, candy, card
puffy, fluffy, pointy, bright, smooth, fuzzy
lift blanket, snap elastic, open card
Visit a mall and feel trees and ornaments and presents under a tree. Find a toy store and feel stuffed animals; experience puppies in a pet store. Visit Santa and feel his beard and suspenders. Buy a small gift and wrap and tie it, then put it in a stocking and hang the stocking up. Play peekaboo with a blanket.
Feel a wad of cotton, an artificial tree, ornaments, wrapping paper, garland, yarn, ribbon, sock, elastic band, candy, fur and card. Let the child match each touch object to the tactual representation in the book - place the touch objects in a box decorated with Christmas wrap and ribbon or in a large stocking. Let the child help you tape the objects in the book next to their representations. For instance, tape a twig of artificial twig next to the tree and a tiny bow next to the present.
After you have taped the piece of tree, ornament ball, ribbon, candy and card on the appropriate pages, glue a braille word under each object. Feel the objects and textures on the pages and "read" the braille.
Take out the touch stocking and see if your child can match the textures to the objects
6) Literacy Unit --Relating activities to puppet play and text
Valentine Cats by J. Marzello, (1996), New York, Scholastic
The purpose of this unit is to relate activities and puppets to a story and objects. Not all characters and experiences are subject to "hands-on" exploration, yet the world of literacy contains wonderful materials with imaginary content. Puppets provide one bridge between accessible real actions and the fictional content.
card, word, write, catch, fall, paper, glue, glitter, paint, heart, cup scrap, mailbox, sign, bag, march, door
scribble, catch, glue, paint, cut, write, fill, march
Do the activities--look up a word in a dictionary, write a sign, toss and catch scraps, make valentines with glitter and glue, cut paper, fill bag with valentines and mail to classmates, march to the door. Emphasize the actions that are fun--stomp to the door, scatter the scraps and valentines, snap the scissors open and closed.
Explore the paper, foil, envelope, marker, glue, glitter, paint, scissors, mailbox and door. Remember to point out the key feature--foil is shiny, a doily has holes, an envelope has a flap.
Act out the entire story taking time to feel the real objects; then place the objects in the valentine box. Repeat the story without the objects stressing the rhythm and rhyme.
Make three cat puppets from paper lunch bags drawing eyes, nose and whiskers on the flap and adding two pointed ears at the top and paper strip arms at the sides--writer cat has a marker, painter cat has a paint brush and mailing cat has an envelope. Act out the story with the puppets.
7) Literacy Unit --Making a story pillow
The Carrot Seed by R. Krauss, (1945), New York, Harper & Row
The purpose of this unit is to encourage narration by making a story pillow. A story pillow allows the child to transition between actually doing activities and representing doing activities--a prerequisite for understanding narrative content.
mother, father, brother, water, seed, carrot, wheelbarrow, weed
planting and growing, believing in oneself
dig, water, pull up
packet of seeds
Plant, water, and weed carrots at home or in class. Push a wheelbarrow.
Buy a bunch of carrots. Explore the tops and carrots. Out of felt, cut out figures for the family, a watering can, a seed, a tiny and huge carrot. Put a piece of furry velcro on the boy figure's hand. Relate each felt figure to the real object--it has a spout and a handle like the real watering can, it is long and thin and pointy at the bottom like the carrot. Attach velcro hook tabs to the back of each piece. Sew two felt squares stuffed with old socks together. Attach a piece of furry velcro two-thirds of the way down one side. Let the child find the velcro and practice putting each figure on and making it stick using the hooked velcro on the back. It will be easier if the child first practices finding and pulling off each piece. It is important for the child to begin to realize that there are two dimensional representations of graphics--these occur frequently in school--this kind of activity is the scaffold for working with graphic representation.
When you read the story use a deep voice for the father, a high voice for the mother and a taunting intonation for the brother. At first act out the actions such as planting, watering and pulling weeds. Make the story sound dramatic. Then demonstrate how to act it out using the story pillow. Each time let the child retell the story with the pillow and figures, while you extend the child's actions and utterances to enrich meaning. Let the child make up new stories, too.
Once you have made and learned to use your story pillow you can make figures from other stories that have a narrative line, such as Caps for Sale, The Three Little Kittens or The Three Bears.
8) Literacy Unit --Enjoying sounds and rhymes
Drummer Hoff by B. Emberly, (1967), Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, Inc.
The purpose of this unit is to give the child experience with a book in which the content is, to some extent, not subject to direct experience and to engage the child in the enjoyment of the sound and rhythm of text. In life and school, there will be many books used for which the child cannot have hands-on experience. It is important that each child be able to listen and enjoy and even learn from such books. Learning to appreciate the rhythm and sound of language is a normal developmental step towards complex language and later narratives, literature and poetry.
carriage, barrel, powder, rammer, shot, order, fired it off
sequence, assembling a whole
listening to the sound of text, recalling sequence
Many towns have a cannon or statue depicting a cannon, either on a military installation or museum or at a memorial, that can be explored. If either is available, explore it thoroughly finding the various parts and their relations in space.
If a life size cannon is not available, find a toy cannon for the child to explore.
When you read, emphasize the rhythm and rhyme, and order. Once you have read it several times to establish expectation, introduce slight variations in pacing to develop suspense about what is coming next. Ask the child what comes next. Read the second half progressively faster to complete each page in one breath--make a game of it!
Make story pillow figures for each soldier and each part so the child can have each character bring the correct part and add it on.
9) Literacy Unit--Acting out a story and encouraging Symbolic play
Corduroy by D. Freeman, (1968), New York, Viking Press
The purpose of this kind of unit is to expose the child to classic books which may not be wholly available for life experience, and to facilitate understanding, and generalization to acting out a story and Symbolic play. Children with visual impairments need to be prepared to engage and be successful with a range of material and content. Not every book can be based completely on hands-on or familiar experience. Symbolic and peer play are often difficult and may require scaffolding by adults to develop.
Corduroy, bear, toy department, store, shoppers, overalls, girl/Lisa, Mommy, button, shoulder strap, lost/find, shelf, climb down, floor, escalator/mountain, furniture/palace, mattress/bed, small, round, pull up, pop. bang, lamp, fell down, watchman. hiding, ear, cover, home, broken/fixed, friend, hug
sequence, causation, home, friend, comparing Concepts, real/make believe
understanding cause/effect and sequence
Visit a department store. Ride the escalator up and down comparing it to a mountain or hill; make sure the child gets to walk up and down hill in the familiar neighborhood. Find the toy department and explore the shelves, dolls and stuffed animals, especially any teddy bears; make sure you point out the clothes and buttons. Find the furniture department and explore the mattresses, beds, lamps, sofas, tables and chairs; explain what a palace is and find the buttons on the mattress.
When you explore each object, make sure you start at the floor to establish a reference in space and systematically work up feeling every part and noting the spatial relationship to the other parts--for example, the legs are under the table top, the shade is at the top of the lamp. Spatial language is more difficult for children with visual impairments, since the tactual sense is sequential and partial compared to normal vision.
Use different voices for each character. Corduroy's voice should sound full of wonder and the watchman should sound angry. Lisa and Corduroy sound sad at the beginning of the story and happy at the end. Assemble a toy bear, doll clothes overalls, flashlight, lamp, mattress and sheet. As you read the story, act it out with the real objects. Leave the real objects in the play area, after you have read the story several times, and encourage the child to
act out the story.
You can make a storypillow set for Corduroy to encourage more story telling and more Symbolic play. Discuss the order of events in the story. Ask the child why Corduroy searches for the button, why everything falls over. Practice divergent thinking; where else can Corduroy search. Discuss the feelings and emotions of the characters. Compare the escalator to a mountain, the store to a palace. Discuss what it means to be fixed and broken, and the Concepts of having a friend and home.
10) Literacy Unit - Making the transition to a book without adaptation
Whistle for Willieby E. J. Keats, (1964), New York, Viking Press
The purpose of this unit is to make the transition to the book without adaptation--the most frequent real life situation the child will encounter. The child's literate and social world would be impoverished indeed if limited to content that can be touched and experienced directly and formats that are specially adapted for visual impairment. An emergent literacy program must facilitate Skills to deal with the everyday world of unadapted books dealing with the full range of content. This transition, like the preceding ones, must be addressed with explicit training.
whistle, whirl, faster, down, up, turn, around, carton, Peter, Willie, chalk, pocket, draw, line, door, blew, hat, mirror, mother, father, walk, crack, sidewalk, run, shadow, jump, corner, shout, stand
faster, up/down, together, in, under
whistle, draw, jump
Take the child through the actions--spin faster, draw a line, get in and under the carton, walk, run, jump, shout, stand, try to whistle or blow; use the toy whistle to whistle.
Feel the sidewalk and cracks, a pocket with chalk inside and a hat and mirror.
Read the story doing an action for each set of pages; some actions will be pretend such as drawing a line. After reading the story several times with the actions, try reading it without the actions. The goal is for the child, eventually, to be able to hear a new story, without advance preparation, and listen, engage, and learn.
Try reading a book which blends familiar and unfamiliar content, such as Bedtime for Frances, without preparation. Be sure to enrich reading with divergent and convergent thinking activities--what happened first, what happened at the end, why do you think Frances didn't fall asleep, what did she learn, what other things can you imagine scaring Frances?
11) Literacy Unit - Using an action book and puppet to enhance the story
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by E. Carle, (1969), New York, Philomel
The purpose of this unit is to relate a puppet to an action book. This book has real content, but it is content that is unlikely to be subject to hands-on exploration. It is important for the child to begin to relate what is knowable through hands-on experience (eating) to what is unavailable (caterpillar transformation) since much of later social studies and science will fall into this category.
caterpillar, leaf, apple, pear, plum, strawberry, orange, cake, ice cream, pickle, cheese, salami, lollipop, pie, sausage, cupcake, watermelon, butterfly
find hole in page
Find the 15 foods listed above in the store and feel, smell and examine them. Act out being a caterpillar crawling on the floor, spinning a cocoon, and flying away as a butterfly.
Feel those matching foods you have on hand finding the key parts, such as cylinder shaped sausage, pits on the orange, cone on the ice cream cone, holes in the cheese or stick on the lollipop, and relating the food to the picture in the book.
Make a caterpillar puppet by coloring a white sock with marker to look like the caterpillar in the book; make sure it has big eyes and a long green body. Cut out huge colorful wings out of cloth or paper. Attach strips of furry velcro to the puppet and hooked velcro to the wings. Make a cocoon from a piece of old hose or brown sock. Act out the story with the puppet and find each hole on the pages with holes. When the puppet eats, stuff as many as possible foods in the sock puppet to make the caterpillar get fat! Put the puppet in the cocoon and attach the wings so that the butterfly can fly away! Ask questions about how and why the caterpillar changes.
You can enrich this experience by making colored poster board cutouts of the foods so the child can practice making one-to-one correspondences between the cutouts and pages;use puff pens to emphasize the key differences. Use furry velcro tabs on the pages and hooked velcro tabs on the matching pieces as markers. Point out the relationship of the pieces to the real objects.
References and Resources
Anderson, E. S., Dunlea, A. & Kekelis, L. S. (1993). The Impact of input: Language acquisition in the visually impaired. First Language, 13, 23-49.
Drezek, W. (1995). Move Touch Do! Louisville, KY: American Printing House for the Blind.
Evans, J. & Moore, J. E. (1991). How to Make Books with Children. Monterey, CA: Evan-Moor Corporation.
King-DeBaum, P. (1990). Storytime: Stories, Symbols and Emergent Literacy Activities for Young, Special Needs Children. Solana Beach, CA: Mayer and Johnson.
Koenig, A. J. & Farrenkopf, C. (1996). Essential experiences to undergird the early development of literacy. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. 91, 14-23.
Miller, D. (1985). Reading comes naturally: A mother and her blind child's experiences. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 79, 1-4.
Moore, J. E., Evans, J. & Morgan, K. (1990). Making Seasonal Big Books with Children. Monterey, CA: Evan-Moor Corporation
Recchia, S. L. (1997). Play and concept development in infants and young children with severe visual impairments: A constructivist view. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 91, 401-406.
Rettig, M. ( 1994). The play of young children with visual impairments: characteristics and interventions. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 88, 410-120.
Sacks, S. Z., Kekelis, L.S. & Gaylord-Ross, R. J. (1992). The Development of Social Skills by Blind and Visually Impaired Students: Exploratory Studies and Strategies. New York, NY: American Foundation for the Blind.
Sewell, D. & Durkel, J. (1997). Emerging Literacy for Braille Readers. Paper presented at the Texas AER conference, El Paso, Texas.
Stratton, J. M. (1996). Emergent literacy: A new perspective. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 90, 177-183.
Strickling, C. (1997, January). INSITE Training: Motor. Paper presented at the INSITE training workshop, San Antonio, Texas.