BRAILLE INSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES
By: Carmen Willings
Unlike braille instruction for former print readers or those who are learning braille as a secondary reading mode, braille instruction for children with who learning to read with braille as their primary medium must incorporate more than just the braille code. Instruction must include the fundamental skills of reading and writing. Instruction must incorporate listening skills, phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, comprehension and fluency.
Additional ECC Resources...
Increase Braille Reading/Writing
The Cranmer Abacus
Organization & Study Skills
Signature & Handwriting
Encourage Use of Vision
Attend, Shift Gaze & Pursuit
Tracking & Scanning
Visual Motor Skills
Discrimination & Sequencing
Visual Closure & Figure Ground
Visual Association & Memory
Developing Skillful Hands
Optical Device Use
Nav. Computer w/o a Mouse
Word Processing and Shortcuts
Use of Video Magnifier
Accessing Audio Books
Making iOS Device Accessible
Getting Around (O&M)
Transitions Between Activities
Proper Guide Techniques
Orienting Student to Environment
Responsibility & Independence
Hygiene & Grooming
Dressing & Clothing Management
Shopping & Budgeting
Recreation & Leisure
Recreation & Leisure Resources
Learn to Play
Career & Vocational
Preparing for College
If you don't have access to APH funds, you can create your own Letter Tiles with some minor adaptations. I've used these letter tiles prior to APH creating the Word PlayHouse Kit. I like them because they are made of virtually indestructible plastic. Clear braille labels can be added to the front of the tiles while Velcro can be added to the back. The problem of correct orientation remains for braille readers. A tactual dot can be placed in the top left hand corner of each tile to help students correctly orient the tile.
Word Play House Kit
The Word PlayHouse kit., available from APH, is one of my favorite tools for teaching phonics activities. The durable Velcro tiles can be used to create a number of activities that focus on phonics, spelling, and phonemic awareness. I use this kit with the activities listed as the tiles are already made!
APH.SQUID Tactile Activities Magazine This activities magazines, available through APH, introduce a recreational approach to tactile literacy. SQUID Magazine is deceptively fun: while your child or student enjoys a variety of activities, he or she will acquire skills needed to become a more proficient tactile reader. These puzzles, games, and brainteasers will foster: Texture discrimination, Systematic searching, Shape identification, Tracking line paths, Pattern building and recognition, and Understanding symbols
Samantha Zauner, a Teacher of Students with Visual impairments, has created a collection of file folder games. You may be inspired to create your own or download the templates she created for free to use with your students:
Angry Birds (Letters: Z, J, H, D, Q, P, V and W)
Hello Kitty (Letters: Y, K, N, T, J, M and X)
French Fries (Letters: D, E, I, F, N, R, J and Z)
Soccer (Letters: F, N, X, P, T, M, I and R)
Little Mermaid (Letters: X, N, F, R, L, P, and S)
Train Alphabet (Words: A, But, Can, Do, Every, Go, Like, So, It, You, People and Rather)
Students need to have many opportunities to practice and develop their braille reading and writing skills in order to increase their fluency and stamina. Find stories and books that relate to the student's specific interests and that the student can read comfortably, to guarantee immediate success. Select books that students can read at the independent reading level. Encourage the student to keep a log of the braille books he or she read.
Environmental Exposure to Braille
The goal for the braille learner is to recognize braille or other tactile symbols as easily as sighted people read print. Early exposure to print/braille is important. Students should be exposed to a wide variety of print/braille in books and in the environment. Future braille readers or possible braille candidates MUST have daily exposure to braille in a literacy rich environment that is fully accessible. This daily exposure (at school and at home) will help students make the connection between what is written and the spoken word. Provide students with opportunities to read class schedules, daily messages, cassette tape labels, recipes, menus, and notes from teachers. Also provide opportunities to read transcriptions of classmates’ writing, and a wide variety of children’s books transcribed into braille. Incorporate braille on: bulletin boards; braille names on desks, cubbies and lockers; classroom signs, rules and posters; and calendars.
Objective: Student will locate, match, and identify letters of the alphabet.
Create file folder activity using unit related cutouts. Place a lower case letter on each shape. Prepare identical cutouts or complimentary cutouts with uppercase letters on them. Encourage the student to match the uppercase to the lowercase letters. If using Velcro, be sure to use the soft Velcro to the file folder and the “scratchy” Velcro to the back of the corresponding shape (This will allow you to present the corresponding shapes on a felt board such as the Wheatley.). Extend the activity by having the student identify the letters.
A to Z
Objective: Student will group words by initial letter and alphabetize all the words.
Using vocabulary cards from the unit, encourage the student to locate the beginning letter of each word. Assist the student in sounding out and reading each of the words. Work your way through the alphabet locating words in alphabetical order. Compare the letters piles and encourage the student to determine which letter has the most words. Which letter has the least amount of corresponding words.
Adaptation: Locate objects of theme related items and present these to the student paired with an auditory description. This is a mitten. Mitten starts with the letter "m". "M" says "mmmm". Can you touch the mitten? Encourage student to touch the mitten in order to advance to the next item.
Objective: Student will match words.
Present the student with the unit related vocabulary words. Create a set of duplicates and encourage the student to match up the words. Assist the student in sounding out the words and discuss why they are related to the unit or have the student use the words in sentences. Extend the activity by having the student write sentences using the vocabulary words.
Pair Objects with Words
Objective: Student will match braille labels to real objects.
As the student explores the materials related to the unit, present braille labels to correspond with each object presented. Explain that you have words of each of the objects. Present one word at a time. Reinforce new vocabulary and word-attack strategies by modeling how to read unfamiliar words. Point to the word without saying the name. Point out the beginning, middle and ending sounds. Encourage the student to read the words.
Objective: Student will create a few words when given a model.
Present the student with a vocabulary words from the unit and encourage them to build the word using letter tiles. Place the tiles of the word in a scrambled order on a felt board. Make the activity more challenging by having the student locate the letters from a selection of letters not needed as well. Enhance the activity by discussing the letter sounds each letter makes and other words that begin with that letter.
Word family sort
Objective: Student will sort words into the correct word family and read the word family words.
Select a word family using unit related word(s) to write clearly on the side of envelopes or other holder in which to sort words. Encourage the student to read each word and place it in the appropriate bag/container with the same word family.
Objective: Student will identify letters within a vocabulary word and rearrange letters to form new words.
Present the student with words related to the unit along with letter tiles to spell the word. Encourage the student to first spell the word and then create more words using those tiles. How many words can the student create with the letter tiles?
Sort by Onset
Objective: Student will identify and read words with the same onset.
Create a set of cards with unit related words. Leave off the first letter or letter blend at the beginning of each word and replace it with a Velcro dot. Provide the student with letters and blends to match that will create the correct word.
Scrambled Fact Sentences
Objective: Student will read sentence and put it back together after it has been scrambled.
Present the student with pre-written fact sentences related to the unit. Read the sentences together several times to improve fluency and word recognition. Assist the student in cutting the sentence(s) into individual words, or provide prewritten/cut sentences. Mix the words up (but ensure they are all still oriented correctly) and encourage the student to put the sentence together into its original order. Vary the complexity of the sentences to challenge the student, but ensure success. Extend the activity by encouraging the student to generate their own simple sentences related to the topic. Support them in forming a variety of sentence types: declarative, interrogatory, exclamatory, or imperative. Provide assistance in generating new sentences as needed.
Objective: Student will identify and create compound words.
Discuss with the student how compound words are made when two words are put together to form a new word. Provide the student with part of a compound word related to the unit. Next have the student find a word that can be added to the beginning or end of their word to create a new word. After the student makes a match, provide them with new cards.
Literacy Rich Environment
Find functional uses for braille, such as labeling personal belongings (lockers, notebooks, CDs, and so forth), recording telephone numbers, and writing homework assignments or shopping lists. For those less familiar with braille, a braille labeler can be used to make braille labels, although it can only produce uncontracted braille. Braille clothing labels can provide daily exposure to braille as well. Model the use of braille (as when reading aloud to the student) and use braille for sending messages and other functional purposes.
Make It Fun!
Write braille notes to the student and place them in unexpected places to create interest and a sense of excitement in using braille. Later, the student can be encouraged to write notes to the teacher of students with visual impairments and others.
Use braille access technology, such as computers and personal note takers, as a motivating factor as students can be motivated by the voice output. This is also a great way to for a more advanced braille reader who uses a personal note taker to have an opportunity to mentor and feel good about their braille skills!
Give the student directions in braille to follow, such as the steps in a treasure hunt. Provide the student with a note that provides a clue to the first location to look. You can pair this with the theme such as hiding the next clue in an Easter egg (adapt to the current theme)!