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By Janet George, Child and Family Resource Consultant, Dept. of Services for the Blind, Seattle, WA and Elizabeth Eagan Satter, TVI, Federal Way School District, Federal Way, WA

Abstract: The authors provide ideas to help provide structured activities for students during the summer by developing daily routines. The ideas would be good for teachers to share with students and families for any extended breaks from school.

Key Words: Effective Practices, routines, summer, holidays

There are few words that children love more than “Summer Vacation”. Our parents always kept us busy with yard work, household chores, visiting grandparents, reading and more reading, exploring the neighborhood, and always a vacation to somewhere. There were the times when we were bored—when time seemed to drag on. We missed our friends from school, and those were the times we got into trouble. The same is true for kids today.

Summer can be fun or terribly boring to students with visual impairments. Finding activities to keep entertained and challenge the mind can be a difficult feat for both the students and their parents. Skills can be lost over the summer months when not practiced. But how to maintain those skills can be just as problematic as finding activities.

Where to Start?

To keep the routine of the school week going, think of the days of the week in these terms:

Make It Monday

Make snacks or meals. Braille grocery lists or a things to do list. Make a craft, making a mess only to clean it up later. “Make it tidy” by doing household chores (laundry, vacuum, sweep). Make a scrapbook of the past school year’s activities. Make the bed. Make labels to organize the pantry, drawers, etc.

Technology Tuesday

Practice keyboarding or computer software programs (i.e. JAWs, MAGic, Zoomtext, PowerPoint), Braille note-taking devices, write pen pals, magnifiers, and monoculars (even a trip to the zoo where you have to use the monocular to see the animals!). Go online to investigate careers, colleges, state/community agencies, recipes, etc.

Writing Wednesday

Email friends, relatives, teachers, or pen pals. Write poetry or stories to share with younger siblings or cousins. Keep a diary or daily journal. Create a travel log or reading log. Plan and write a menu for the week (which might include looking up the recipes on technology Tuesday).

Tasty Thursday

Today is all about the kitchen: exploring it; trying a new recipe, cooking something new and tasting something for the first time! Set or decorate the table. And let’s not forget the clean up that goes along with the food preparation: doing the dishes by hand or loading the dishwasher; cleaning the counters; and putting away the ingredients & dishes

Field Trip Friday

Plan a picnic in the park, or a trip to beach, mall, community agency, etc. This includes planning the route to the venue and arranging the transportation. Run errands with parents (grocery store, bank, post office). Participate in activities such as bowling, tennis, swimming, etc. Obtain a photo identification card. Sleep over with friends


The weekends need to remain free of planned activities, a time to spend with the family doing typical family routines. Relax...and talk, hang out, or play games with each other! You might be surprised the things you learn from one another.

Additional Activities

Go to camp.

Many state agencies, schools for the blind, and other organizations host summer camps; for example, here in the great state of Washington we have the YES (Youth Employment Solutions) 6 week program for teens and SCILS (Summer Camp Independent Living Skills) for ages 9-13.

Volunteer in the community or obtain a job.

One way for students with visual impairments to learn about working and types of careers is to volunteer or obtain a summer job. These young men and women can learn vital social, communication, independence, and work skills that they can take with them into their adult lives, to help find success in their chosen careers and personal lives.

Take a Hadley course.

Hadley School for the Blind offers distance education programs to individuals with a visual impairment as well as to their families and service providers. Examples of courses include: Braille Literacy, Internet Basics, Finding Your Way, How to Be Your Child’s Advocate, Basic Nemeth Code, Finding Employment, and Independent Living. For more information, go to<>.

Create an address book.

You can create an address book either electronically or by using a commercial one. Gather phone numbers of local businesses that the family frequents. Business cards are great for future reference and can be taped inside the address book once they have either been enlarged or labeled in Braille.

Interview parents or other family members.

Find out how to do certain tasks (i.e. laundry, purchasing clothes); this is a great way to learn how to do tasks, while working on communication and note-taking skills.

Stay fit.

Keep in mind exercise for the body—for instance, hiking, rowing, tandem biking, going for long walks, etc. Students with visual impairments tend not to get enough exercise and may fatigue easily when playing with friends or during PE activities at school.