Teacher Made Materials
By: Carmen Willings
Updated January 21, 2020
The following is a list of specialized materials that I have used over the years when working with students with visual impairments who have multiple disabilities, many of which I have picked up from fellow TVI's or Occupational Therapists. My favorite by far is the PVC pipe toy bar as it is so versatile and easily customized to meet the student's unique needs. Also, there are a number of skills that can be incorporated into it.
PVC Pipe Toy Bar
A PVC pipe toy bar can be easily made and can be modified to accommodate a student’s changing visual, auditory and tactile interest.
The following is a list of possible materials to hang:
The Little Box
The “little box” is made out of a Clear-View plastic container (approx. 66qt.). Drill holes on the top and attach plastic ties that baby rings can be hung from. Space the holes evenly and in such a way as to promote the parallel and non-parallel shift of gaze. You can also encourage the student to come to mid-line when materials are suspended in the middle of the box. Attach a large sheet of black Velcro material to the back and bottom. Attach a strap or bungee cord to allow the box to be fastened to the student’s tray.
Qualities of materials to use:
Place or suspend interesting toys/materials. Toys can be suspended using infant links or can be firmly secured with elastic. Both allow toys/materials to return to their position in space when they are not being handled. You could also attach toys with Velcro. Non-suspending toys/materials can be placed in the box including the portable APH lightbox and other items that may be switch activated.
Spray paint a cookie tray black. Attach magnetic tape to the back of objects that you would like to encourage the student to sort/obtain/make designs.
Liquid Sensory Bottles
Obtain a clear plastic bottle with a screw top lid. Fill the tube with water and glycerin. Add translucent bingo chips, bands, small LEGO pieces, glitter, beads, or sequins. Seal with contact cement and allow to dry 24 hours before using.
Dry Sensory Bottles
Fill a clear plastic bottle with small objects that are visually interesting (colored rice, beads, bells, bright colored marbles, colored sand, feathers, paper shreds, etc.).
Fill a gallon size bag that seals with glitter, reflective materials, sponges, theme-related materials, etc. Add water and food coloring if desired (Variation: fill the bag with hair gel and food coloring). Zip close the bag and seal it with sturdy strapping tape. Place into a second bag and seal again. Place the mat on the student’s tray or on the floor and encourage the student to attend to the mat. Demonstrate how to push on the mat to make the objects move. Encourage the student to touch/squish the bag.
These can be made using a variety of objects that can be filled (film containers, small jars, plastic eggs, etc.) Fill with sound making objects (marbles, rice, corn, coin, paper clips, beads, sand, etc.)
Wrist & Ankle Bracelets
The idea is to give the student something to look at on his wrists and ankles to encourage him to notice his extremities. Use a patterned and/or bright ponytail holder and attach a bell or other noisemaker if desired.
It is useful in encouraging students to open their clenched hand, to help them achieve midline organization of hands, to facilitate their learning to utilize their tactile receptors in their fingertips, to perform tactile orientation, and to begin to compare materials.
The purpose is to help a student with poor motor development who is a tactile learner, a book like aid with pages that are easy to turn and with something on each page that may encourage the student to be more actively engaged. Materials can be added to correlate with a student’s book and/or theme.
The vests are for a student who is sitting in a wheelchair or car so that the student can get stimulation and play. The vest motivates the individual to perform midline organization of hands. Make it out of a Velcro foam material (material that a Velcro hook material can be attached to). Pieces of the Velcro hook material can be attached to objects such as a ping-pong ball so that it will adhere to the vest. Two rings can be attached to the front of the vest so that objects can be tied to it.
The purpose is to encourage the student to reach out and explore materials. Spray a board black. Drill holes evenly spaced throughout the board. Attach tactually interesting materials that student would be interested in exploring tactually and visually.
Ensuring the student has access to the curriculum and entire educational environment is a key role of the Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments. This presentation provides an overview of accommodations for students who are blind or visually impaired. I discuss considerations for providing accommodations, go over common accommodations, strategies for preparing the student to request job accommodations and strategies for communicating needs to teams and employers.
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