I have a new 3-year-old-student who has Optic Atrophy and is considered severely visually impaired. Although he will be a braille learner to access print and much of his graphics academically, he still has a good amount of functional vision that he enjoys using. Alongside his tactile skill development, he is learning colors, shapes, letters, and numbers in very large font (at least 2 inches in size).
I came up with a braille cell activity involving the traditional muffin tin approach that would incorporate multiple concepts being learned.
This is an inexpensive foil 2x3 (6) muffin pan. Inside each is a small round plastic container with a lid. Each lid has one number 1-6 written in a different color permanent marker. Each lid also has the corresponding braille number label. Each container currently contains small "Christmas" related items, which can be changed out depending on the season.
This activity covers 9 skill areas:
- Braille cell layout
- Spatial Awareness
- Fine Motor
- Tactile Exploration
- Color Identification
- Numerical Identification
- Visual Discrimination
- 2x3 (6) muffin tin (I found 2 for $1 at the dollar store)
- Small round plastic containers with lids (I also found these at the dollar store, and they fit perfectly.)
- 6 different color markers (I used permanent markers, so they wouldn't rub off.)
- Braille labels for numbers 1-6
- Small items that will fit in containers (found at dollar store and craft stores)
Activities (concepts in parenthesis):
1. Early or beginning exposure to braille cell
- I have the student count the containers in the braille cell order. (counting and braille cell layout)
- I then ask him to take each container out one at a time as requested in the braille cell order: 1-6. (braille cell layout)
- He takes the container out, opens the container independently (fine motor skills) and removes the item.
- He then counts the item by placing it in the muffin tin spot for "dot 1". (counting)
- He then moves on to container 2, then 3, then 4, then 5, then 6. (braille cell layout)
- After that we count the dots in order again 1-6. (counting and braille cell layout)
- I then have him locate the lids in order (color identification and number identification) and place item(s) back into the container, close lid and place back in corresponding hole. (braille cell layout)
- When all containers are back in their spots, we once more count the containers or dots in order 1-6. (counting and braille cell layout)
2. Further activities to build understanding of dots and layout of the cell
- Ask the student to locate random dots or container numbers. "Please find the container for dot 3".
- Start with all containers removed and hand him a random container and ask him to place in appropriate spot.
- Start with all containers removed and mixed up and have him sort.
- Start with all containers in the tin, but in the wrong spots and have the student "fix it".
- Have items out of containers and have student count to figure out which container the items go in.
- Have items which are all the same and the student must place the appropriate amount of items in each spot.
- Spatial awareness activities: locate the top right, bottom left, etc.
- The possibilities are endless!
3. Continue with muffin tin for higher level layouts and letters/numbers
- Start with containers in tin and ask the student to only remove "dot 1" or only "dots 1-3", etc.
- Start with them removed and have student place containers in different layouts, e.g. "place containers in 'dots 1-3-5' only."
- Have student create letters/numbers using containers.