The Early Childhood years are very critical for laying foundational skills for all children, but this is especially so for children with visual impairments. Most children with visual impairments will need extra support to succeed in school. Hands-on opportunities are important for the student.
By: Carmen Willings
The dramatic play station provides opportunities for social, language, emotional, and intellectual development. Students have the opportunity to interact with peers in social situation and practice language.
The ability to pretend and to experiment with playthings is necessary for the development of language, reasoning and imagination for sighted and visually impaired students. Through play in the dramatic play station, the students have opportunities to develop an understanding of roles of family members, learn about community helpers and experiment with relationships.
Keep in mind that it is especially difficult for students with visual impairments to understand the difference between make-believe and reality. In order to imitate and act out experiences, a student must first have had experiences with and understanding of the roles and actions to be acted out. It is more meaningful to re-enact familiar and real experiences in dramatic play areas. Students with visual impairments need concrete experiences in real-life situations followed by play repetitions. For this reason, it would be beneficial to begin a unit with a trip to a bakery, farm, restaurant, etc. before expecting the student to pretend with the materials.
Incorporate concepts into the drama station by discussing: likes and differences of pots & pans, silverware, clothing; size (big/little and small/medium/large) and quantity differences of people, clothes, food containers; placing spoon/utensils in and out of a pot or oven; placing dolls on top of the bed or underneath the sheets; placing pots on top of a hot pad or placing the hot pad underneath the pot; sound differences of pots and pans rattling; Match towels of the same texture; Discuss if food containers are hard or soft; if clothes are rough or smooth; front and back of food boxes; shapes of boxes and containers; and if boxes or cupboards being empty or full. Include clothing with various fasteners to encourage students to practice dressing skills.
Use a real mailbox to “mail letters” and “deliver” the letters to the right person. Provide household items that can be used in different ways such as pots and pans that fit inside each other, and lids that fit on top. Incorporate objects/materials within the center to make the experiences more meaningful. (ex. a real metal pan with a lid will be more meaningful than a plastic one, broom, iron/ironing board, phone, suitcases, keys and keyholes, dishes, etc.) As the student forms more of an understanding of these real objects, you could introduce pretend and talk about similarities and differences. (Keep in mind that pretend objects often lack interesting textures and smells and may always be too abstract for the visually impaired child!
When planning the dramatic play area, keep in mind that it needs to be a bigger area to accommodate the various furnishings and activities. It is also a loud area, so it is best to have it located near the block center which is another loud area. Create theme boxes using plastic totes or banker boxes. Store theme related materials in the boxes for easy retrieval. Supplement the theme boxes with freebies from business offices, doctor's offices, grocery stores, restaurants, dentists office, post office, etc. Parents may have access to materials for the boxes based on their jobs.
Materials to Incorporate Into Dramatic Play:
Silverware to sort
Metal pots and pans w/ lids to match
Plastic bottles w/ lids or caps
Big/little food boxes
Dish towels to fold
Aprons to tie
Food boxes filled with similar sounding materials & taped
Measuring cups & spoons to stack & seriate
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The TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC Complete Set includes the following:
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On My Way File Folder Cards
Print and use these cards to represent locations the student may visit that are related to the current thematic unit. Use these with the On My Way File Folder Game outlined in the TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC p. 27.
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