Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Ready for Phonics - Making Words

Picture of word cube with braille labels and braille word cards

If you have seen any of my Oreo Reading posts then you know I am using Diane Wormsley's approach, as well as a type of project-based learning to teach braille to my student with additional disabilities. I noticed that my student is pointing out beginning letters and recognizing the "s" at the end of words. I use simple phonics activities with her, like reading and sorting a word family based on one of her words. Repetition continues to be beneficial to her during all phases of reading instruction, so the classroom teacher follows through with the phonics activities that I provide.

This activity is a simple making words activity. Braille letters are placed on a Word Cube that I printed from Thingiverse.com. The middle block spins, but the others do not and I did repeat letters. This gives a little more control of the words that can be made. I also made word cards of all the possible words and non-words.

Materials: 

  • Word cube
  • Word cards
  • 2 baskets labeled "words" and "not words"
  • Braille alphabet labels from APH or print your own on labels, so you can include contractions
  • The address to the make for the 3-D word cube is http://www.thingiverse.com/make:293040. All of the files are available from this site. Check with your high schools or libraries to see if they can build this for you. It would be a great service project for engineering students or technology clubs. I chose to use labels rather than 3-D printed braille dots because they can be easily changed. 

Procedure: 

  • Students can use the word cube to make a word or non-word.
  • After the student reads the word, she can find the word card that matches then place it into the correct basket (word or not word).
  • Continue until all the words have been found and sorted.

Word cube with braille

Variations: 

  • Once the student is familiar with the words, you can use contractions (st-ar-t) or double letters (b-a-ll) any of the cubes. Word sorts can be adapted from "word and not word" to beginning sounds, middle sounds, or ending sounds.
  • For students who are at the stage of exploring braille in their environment, this "fiddle toy" becomes a pre-braille toy and gives the student another experience with braille.

Collage of making words