[blindkid] braille learning as fun!

Richard Holloway rholloway at gopbc.org
Thu Jun 10 22:30:46 UTC 2010

I'm not certain what jumbo braille is. Would that be the larger stuff  
that is still small enough to read by fingertip but only rather  

I remember being cautioned to avoid the larger braille at one point--  
that it could be confusing and was often harder kids to figure out  
than standard braille, especially since smaller fingers feel a smaller  
area in the first place. Others may have more information on this but  
that all made some sense to me-- worth looking into.

The muffin tin however is a pretty commonly accepted way to build the  
concept of which dot is which. Especially if a child can manipulate a  
tennis ball with ease, there are many games you can make up and to  
which dot is which.

I remember an interesting product called Braille Caravan that I got in  
Dallas at the 2008 convention that were also interesting tools. They  
are especially neat because you can push them from the back and make  
braille like you do with a slate and stylus. If you come to the  
convention, be sure you look around the exhibit hall. You may find a  
number of interesting ideas and solutions.

Here is some Braille Caravan info:


On Jun 10, 2010, at 5:57 PM, Marie wrote:

> Merry-Noel, your ideas re-sparked a question I meant to ask before.  
> It seems silly now but I'm still gonna ask. :) I was thinking that  
> we just needed Jack to get used to identifying the Braille by touch  
> and not use his sight so I have avoided any "jumbo braille". But I  
> guess the purpose of jumbo braille and the muffin tins type  
> activities is to help the kids learn to "write" Braille just as you  
> would have a child work on jumbo print and letter recognition at the  
> same time. Do I have this right?
> Marie (mother of Jack born May 2005)
> See glimpses of life with my determined son who is developing in his  
> own way at his own time at http://allaccesspasstojack.blogspot.com
> Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Merry-Noel Chamberlain <owinm at yahoo.com>
> Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2010 14:20:27
> To: \(for parents of blind children\)NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List<blindkid at nfbnet.org 
> >
> Subject: Re: [blindkid] braille learning as fun!
> Marie,
> Here are some ideas I've used with some of my students who were  
> learning Braille:
> Lots of Dots:  Learning My ABCs (APH)
>             When coloring in this book, I place the coloring pages  
> on a screen board so the student is able to feel his/her coloring  
> more tactually.
> Squid (APH)
> Create letters using a small 6-count muffin pan.  I try to use  
> different objects for a week or so.    One can usually find erasers  
> that are age appropriate and of interest to the child.  For example,  
> if the child likes Clifford, I use little Clifford erasers.  I also  
> like holiday themes such as pumpkin erasers for Thanksgiving.
> It is important to start teaching the dot numbers.  For this, I use  
> finger puppets.  It seems that small children understand that people  
> live in certain ‘apartment’ numbers so with the finger puppets, I  
> say that Mr. Lamb lives in Apartment #1 and Mr. Chicken lives in  
> Apartment #2.  For this game, I’m not creating letters – rather, I’m  
> focusing on learning the numbers of the dots.  Then, we play a game  
> that Mr. Lamb wants to visit Mr. Chicken in Apartment #2.  Then, we  
> move from that to removing the name the name to Mr. Lamb went to  
> Apartment #4 to find Mr. Chicken.  I’ll have the student put Mr.  
> Lamb in Apartment #4 and ask, “Is Mr. Chicken there?”  We’ll do this  
> several times – mixing up the puppets.
> If the child is having trouble with this, I have another box that  
> has the 6 compartments like a Braille Cell.  In the box, I have  
> sticks that have one through six objects on them.  The student  
> counts the objects and places them in the correct location in the  
> box.  The sticks that have only one go in the top left – while the  
> sticks that have 6 objects goes in the bottom right, etc.  This  
> helps establish the dot number locations, as well.
> I continue to make the cells smaller.  Starting with the small 6- 
> count muffin pan down to as small of a cell I’ve collected over the  
> years.  Items I’ve used include:
>             - small 6-count trinket box w/ lid found in hobby stores.
>             - small 6-count paint holder at hobby store.
>             - Jell-O 6-count egg containers found at thrift shops.
>             - Toys – cupcake, egg shape containers
>             - Toy muffin pan found at antique shops.
> Pop-a-Cell (APH) – create letters back and forth
> PegCell (APH) – create words back and forth.
> Find a book that has six buttons on the right side that make  
> sounds.  Some have seven or so.  Seven is okay so long as the  
> seventh one is larger and above or below the six.  These books can  
> be found anywhere, Walmart, drug stores, etc.  Many of these books  
> have the six buttons like a Braille Cell.  If you can get it  
> Braille, great!!!  The print on the book shows pictures of which  
> button needs to be pushed as the story is read.  Instead of the  
> adult pushing the button, say the dot number of which button needs  
> to be pushed.  For example:  “I was so J when I jumped across the  
> yard.”  The J face button may be dot number 2.  So, it would be read  
> aloud as follows, “I was so ‘dot 2’ (child pushes dot 2 for the  
> delightful sound) when I jumped across the yard.”
> Play dough – The student makes a snake and then presses it flat.   
> Uses a stylus or peg toy to press holes in the play dough… this  
> strengthens the hand and introduces the slate & stylus.
> Twister Braille  - Use a twister game to create letters with the  
> body.  Sometimes I have also had children place stuffed animals on  
> the dots to create the letters.
> Hope these help.  Let me know if you need more ideas.
> Merry-Noel
> --- On Tue, 6/8/10, Marie <empwrn at bellsouth.net> wrote:
> From: Marie <empwrn at bellsouth.net>
> Subject: Re: [blindkid] braille learning as fun!
> To: "'NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List, (for parents of blind  
> children)'" <blindkid at nfbnet.org>
> Date: Tuesday, June 8, 2010, 7:21 PM
> Hey Richard, can you give me some ideas of things that you did to make
> learning Braille fun for Kendra. Jack needs letters 2 to 3 inches  
> high for
> near vision so I am definitely thinking he needs to learn Braille  
> and have
> put Braille in his environment with labels and such and we have
> Braille-Print books. However he is VERY attracted to print but  
> Braille does
> not seem to mean anything to him yet. It may have to do with (lack of)
> fingertip sensitivity (have no idea how sensitive they are since he  
> is still
> learning to talk and this would be a difficult concept to discuss  
> with any 5
> yr old). He wants signs read to him and he tries to spell ALL the  
> time.
> Ideas?
> Marie (mother of Jack, born May 2005)
> Check out our blog at http://www.allaccesspasstojack.blogspot.com for
> glimpses into our busy life with a boy who is busy growing and  
> developing in
> his own way in his own time
> -----Original Message-----
> From: blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:blindkid- 
> bounces at nfbnet.org] On
> Behalf Of Richard Holloway
> Sent: Tuesday, June 08, 2010 11:48 AM
> To: NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List, (for parents of blind children)
> Subject: [blindkid] Wii Thoughts
> I'm wondering if any of us has actually had "hands on" this device,
> and who among us has actually seen that video or had it described to
> us...
> From what I can discern, this "electronic cane" is basically a fairly
> conventional cane with a chunk in the middle that has been replaced by
> a pair of shafts with what appears to be some sort of a motion-sensing
> device that hangs between the the shafts. I suspect it would feel like
> a slightly awkward and heavier-than-usual cane. This is not some crazy
> alternative-to a-cane contraption. It is also (from what I can tell)
> FAR closer to a typical cane than the Wii Guitar is to an actual
> guitar, for whatever that may be worth. Despite it's similarity with a
> "proper" cane, it also does not appear to be offered as a replacement
> to a cane in any way.
> My guess is that (much like with the knfb reader) among so many other
> pieces of technology, over time the device would shrink and could
> ultimately feel (and in fact be) a typical cane that happens to offer
> the features of a Wii input device as well. (Perhaps you could even
> attach a small device around a personal cane for this at some point.)
> I keep hearing so much apprehension and resistance to what this device
> claims to offer but no evidence that it really won't work or certainly
> anything that shows this to be detrimental to cane travelers' skills.
> What I did hear however, is that it apparently has inspired and
> pleased a number of the kids who have been trying it out. Again, I'm
> not picking up an anything bad there. I hear that some people
> apparently think learning to use a cane should NOT be fun. Well, let
> me tell you-- if my daughter thinks something is fun, she's going to
> do it a lot more often and a lot better than something she dislikes
> and I'm suspecting this is not unique to Kendra. In my experience,
> Kendra really enjoys reading and writing braille. She has fun doing it
> now, because she actually had fun learning to read braille and it has
> nearly always been associated with positive experiences for her. Many
> of the ways she learned to read were very much game-like, Now she
> reads several years ABOVE grade level and she's only just finished
> first grade. Does anyone want to suggest to me that while it is okay
> if she enjoys reading NOW, she should NOT have enjoyed LEARNING to
> read? Does that make sense to anyone?
> I was recently looking at a braille compass in a store. Then I saw an
> electronic compass. I don't know how well it works, but the concept is
> interesting. So consider this-- put the electronic compass into a cane
> which tells you which way you're pointing at will. Or why not a GPS in
> a cane? Does that sound excessive or overly complicated? Well it may
> be, but what is much more likely is that things like this Wii cane
> could develop into something like a conventional cane (or cane
> attachment) with a bluetooth interface that could send whatever data
> the sensors in the cane are made to pickup, then you could interface
> that with whatever you wanted-- a compass system, a GPS, or probably
> any number of other devices.
> There was a time when telephones were not mobile, then some people had
> the "crazy" idea of putting them in cars and then briefcases. Those
> became "bag phones" that became the "brick" cell phones which became
> pocket sized phones like many of us have now. Ultimately, a pocket
> phone can encompass everything from a PDA to a GPS system to a knfb
> reader and who knows what else?
> It looks to me like the Wii system, in many ways is actually at least
> part of something somewhat like a simulator for cane travel. You can
> actually travel with it (at least a bit) but not in a "real world"
> environment. Well, the simulator concept is a proven one. People learn
> to do all sorts of things in them all over the world. Often it keeps
> them safe, makes learning faster, and saves time and money. Again, I
> have trouble seeing the down side. Every time I get on a airplane, I'm
> delighted to know the pilot may have spent a lot of time in a
> simulator AS WELL AS actually flying. All of that is hopefully keeping
> me safer in the air!
> The NFB really is working towards cars that would be reasonable for
> blind people to drive on their own. Not just an autonomous vehicle a
> blind person could own and ride in, but one that my child might be
> able to get in and drive on her own one day. It troubles me to observe
> other bashing ideas that may not only be useful and helpful right now,
> but which may very well lead to all sorts of additional helpful
> technologies for all of our kids in the future. I hope we can all keep
> this in mind when we're exploring and discussing new developments in
> technology.
> Once upon a time someone came up with a strange and awkward concept
> for sending messages that could be read in the dark in combat areas.
> It didn't work very well at all and it needed a lot of refining. I
> expect many people thought it was a ridiculous concept, and a waste of
> time, but today I don't think so many of us would announce that
> Braille is a foolish or useless invention.
> Just my thoughts on the matter.
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