Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Preparing for Dual Media in the Preschool Classroom

Book Cover of Off to the Park with a picture of a path with a leg walking to the playground swing
Goals:
To promote the natural inclusion of dual-media literacy materials within the preschool classroom.
To include materials that allow for shared literacy experiences for the dual-media learner, just as naturally as the preschool print reader.
With direct one-on-one instruction to identify the braille, provide opportunities for the dual-media learner to share braille knowledge with peers.
 
As a dually licensed Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, I’m always looking for accessible activities and learning experiences that can be easily embedded into the inclusive preschool classroom. I’m also the parent of a teenager with low vision, and have learned through years of experience that, even at a young age, not all students enjoy the attention that specially adapted materials and equipment can create, so it’s fantastic to find commercially available materials that can be included in the classroom library for everyone to enjoy. 
 
As spring approaches, thematic lessons begin to include concepts related to nature, warm weather, plant growth, and of course, more time to get outside. In a search for books that can be added to the preschool library for my student who is preparing for dual-media learning, I happened to find Off to the Park! published by Child’s Play and illustrated by Stephen Cheetham.

Materials: 

Accessibility–commercially available books for the preschooler preparing to be a dual media learner should include:
  • Large print
  • Plain style font 
  • High contrast colors
  • Reduced visual complexity
  • Include braille or braille can be added (student specific) by the TVI
  • Texture components must be related to the content of the image
  • Texture must be unique throughout the book
 
Emergent Print-Braille Literacy 
  • Model print-braille orientation
  • Point to print-braille across the page
  • Tactile explore
  • Page turning/page numbers
  • Making predictions and text-to-self connections

 

Procedure: 

Reading Off to the Park! with my preschool student, I model left to right reading pointing at each word as it is read aloud. The book has repeated text on each page and can easily be adapted for any pre-braille or braille reader. I added braille to these specific repeated text features, and we say these parts together (of course in funny voices) and touch each braille word as it is said aloud. We take time to tactually explore and compare the different textures from page to page. A preschool student who has the potential to be a dual-media learner does not always use tactile information as a primary sensory channel, so this needs to be modeled frequently and addressed with specially designed instruction. Tactile experiences in this book are based on real world tactile concepts and can easily be carried over into or from Orientation and Mobility lessons. 
 
Page 1 of the book with sneakrs and actual laces
 
Concept Development 
 

Page 1, Lace-up Shoes:

Tactile picture of lace up tennis shoes. Every time we read the book, we include a conversation about our shoes, “I don’t have laces on my shoes today. Do you have laces on your shoes?” 

Page 2, Truncated Domes:

Truncated domes are not something frequently found around this rural school building but could be found in an urban or suburban school setting. O&M: The Tactile Town from APH is included in one of the preschool play centers, and I have included this in my lessons with this book to build conceptual development of stop-light and traffic. We play a version of the red-light/green-light game when traveling in the hallway.

Page 3, Gate:

If you have a swinging gate nearby, this would be perfect to connect to page 3. This school has a similar half door in the main office. Most preschool students pass through this door occasionally, but I took my student to the office to demonstrate this “gate” concept. 

Page 4, Sticks:

Sticks were an easy concept to bring into this lesson and one the student was already familiar with. If not, the TVI could bring in a stick, or better yet…go outside, explore together, and find one as an O&M scavenger hunt! 

Page 5, Ball:

This page specifically lends itself to making an inference from the text. Visually, this textured red circle could be almost anything, but the words, “bounce it on the ground” is an obvious reference that the image is a playground ball. 

Page 6 of the book with a swing that has a metal chain on each side

Page 6, Swing:

My student has had plenty of experience on different playgrounds with his family, and the preschool playground has set of swings very similar to this picture. Other O&M concepts that can be addressed in this picture, body positioning, legs up/legs down, and up/down. Most preschool students are not strong enough to “pump” a swing without help from an adult. For some students, the incidental learning experience of “pumping” a swing is not accessible. 

Page 7-8, Slide:

Again, my student already understood the concept of a climbing up a ladder and sliding down a slide, but this page would lend itself to O&M concepts such as up/down, steps, high/low, and fast/slow. 

Page 9, Tire Swing:

The preschool playground does not have a tire swing, but the park near our school does. Initially, my student thought this picture was a donut, and I quickly asked questions like, “Is a donut made from rubber?” and “Can you swing on a donut?” Of course, this was a funny conversation! I took a toy school bus with rubber wheels from one of bins in the classroom, and asked, “What do you think we could use from an actual school bus to make into a swing?” and “What other kind of swings are at the park?” The TIRE SWING!!! 

page 9 of the book with a textured tire swing

Page 10, Ice Cream Cone:

This is a favorite page that always ends in a conversation about the local ice cream shop. My student is a big fan of treats, and we’ve decided that an ice cream treat for the end of the school year would be acceptable (to both of us). 

Walking Path:

There is a yellow path that runs from the front cover through the end of the book. My student and I have two walking paths that we use during the school day: one in the front of the school and one to the playground. The first day we read this book, my student made the connection that “We have the same thing going to our playground!”

 
Once familiar with the book, I placed it into the classroom library center without telling my student. He was so excited when he found it, and immediately wanted to “read” it to the peer at the center with him! Now, several students enjoy reading the book, and it’s heartwarming to see peers without a visual impairment touching the braille and “reading it” like my student showed them. 
 
Follow-up Activity: Before we go on our fieldtrip next week, my student and are going to talk about textures and concepts from this book that we may find. When we return, we are making an experience book that will include large print, braille labels, pictures and textures that we found on our trip. 
 
Child’s Play has two other books in this series; Getting Ready and Off to the Beach! 

Variations: 

Getting Ready and Off to the Beach! are books, also from Child's Play, in this series.  Look for upcoming lessons from these books as well.

Preparing for Dual Media in the Prescool Classroom

Posted on May 7, 2022
Updated on: May 7, 2022