Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mobility games for preschool children.

This is a great resource! It's from the Texas School for the Blind (TSBVI).

Orientation and Mobility: Preschool Style, By Cecelia Quintana, COMS
Article link:

This link also includes another great resource:
We're On The Move! O&M Games for the Very Young Child
Presented by
Linda Lyle, M.A.Cecelia Quintana, M.A., COMS
AER International ConferenceJuly 14-19, 2000Denver, CO
Download an RTF version of the games (for printing) - o&m.rtf (257k)

Monday, October 25, 2010

DIY: Theme Boxes

This is a super fun project that you can make and customize for your child. They are called theme boxes and I have provided several of the ones I have made in this post.

What are theme boxes? Theme boxes are great ways that you can teach about how items come together and make a concept. I saw another deafblind teacher make something similar to this a few years ago. The one she made was like picture number one (the winter clothes theme box). I expanded the idea to using simple box tops and adding items in it.

You can use these theme boxes as a way of pre-teaching or reinforcing lessons that teach about these items. For example, the car box has items related to getting into the car. They teach about the seatbelt, car keys, music CD---all things that happen while riding in the car.

Make one (or two or three...) for your child today.
Instuctions & specifics below:
Winter Theme Box-
You can also do this for the other seasons as well. Put all the items into one box. Discuss with your child about winter, cold weather, etc. You can read a book as well that discusses these objects. Allow your child to dress up in the items. You will notice that I included a variety of each of the items. You can also incorporate math, community and other skills into this lesson.

As with all projects, customize the theme boxes to fit your child's visual needs. I included some contrasting bright red & yellow so my students with CVI can participate as well. *Plus red & yellow are good contrast colors--many of my students can see them.

The car box:
You can use this as a pre-teach opportunity to read with a "places I go book". I found the car seat straps at a local REI. I could buy them by the foot. Notice that I used red & yellow to include the visual needs of my CVI students. The large buckle on the red strap was also purchased from CVI for about $5, the small one on the yellow strap for about the same. The other yellow carseat buckle is a replacement buckle I bought from Burlington Coat Factory in the Baby Depot dept. for about $7. I included car keys, old CDs as well. The car keys I got for free at Home Depot. I asked for their damaged keys. They are not pictured but the keys I used for this is a car key (with the black casing on top), small key (for a lock) and regular keys (for a home).

Bathroom/dressing box
Note that I used real objects. You can open the wipe container and explore the wipes. There is lotion in the bottle. That is an actual diaper.

This one is also an example of how I use shiny red wrapping paper to highlight the box. I did this primarily for my CVI students. Notice that I did not do the entire bottom. I only did the edges to highlight what I wanted my student to see.

*The holidays are around the corner, I hit up the Dollar Tree and buy in bulk shiny red wrapping paper!

Eating tray
This is a great pre-teach tool for setting the table as well. Again, I used red and yellow as my contrasting colors.

-All of these items are attached using string, velcro (or hook & loop), or draw string type of cording. I found a way to attach them so if they get tossed, I could still find them.
-Each project cost about $8 to make (except the car one) or less. I looked for items that were common use items and put them in the box.
-I recommend using the wrapping paper for students with vision as it highlights where they should look.

These are just a few of the ideas. I presented this at the last parent education event so I do have a handout that I made. I will do my best to post it but these are the pictures from the handout.

Do it at home: Make your own theme box! You can make it for older children and use a paper box (like the winter clothes theme) or you can make it on a box top. I like to enhance the activity by reading a story and using the items to pre- & post-teach or by taking it to the actual activity. Collect your items & get started today!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ski Fun

Did you know that skiing is a popular sport for people who are blind or visually impaired? It is!

If you are in Connecticut, check out Ski Sundown. We took our students there for one of our Teen Escape trips. Our students had a blast! There are also great ski locations in Vermont & Maine. Skiing is a great sport for children with vision impairments and it is something the whole family can do.
Here's the contact information for Ski Sundown, Ski Sundown supervisor--860.379.7669 x219

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mobility resources

Here are some mobility resources provided
by Chris Tabb, COMS

Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (RVIB) also publishes a great resource manual. I only have it as a PDF that I could not upload.
Here is the ISBN information so you can get it on your own:
"A guide to orientation and mobility for young children with vision impairments "
Nicola Misso
First Published 1995, This revision January 2005
National Library of Australian Cataloguing-in Publication data:
ISBN 0 949390 41 0
Information & Referrals Unit, RVIB
557 St Kilda Road, Melbourne 3004

Community opportunity from Perkins

Summer 2011* Taglit-Birthright Israel trip

Perkins School for the Blind is thrilled to announce
a new partnership with Routes Travel: Amazing Israel

Taglit-Birthright Israel offers the gift of first time, peer group, ten day educational trips to Israel for Jewish young adults. Over 230,000 young adults from 52 countries have already been the recipients of this gift.

Routes Travel: Amazing Israel has been chosen by Perkins as the Trip Organizer because of their experience with specialized trips, such as one last summer for young adults who are wheelchair users. Next summer we will offer a trip for Jewish young adults who are blind or visually impaired, high school graduates and between the ages of 18 to 26.

Activities may include:
 Visit historical sites and museums
 Participate in lectures and discussions
 Stay in a Kibbutz
 Traveling with Israeli young adults serving as soldiers
 Hiking, rafting or other outdoor activities
 Archeological dig
 Experienced tour guides
 Making new friends

The gift covers airfare from departing city (to be selected on east coast); hotel, transportation, most meals and trip programming. Groups of 3 or more from a COSB school or alumni association may be asked to provide and fund a guide.

For further information and to request a pre-application in order to be considered for this summer’s trip, please contact:
Beth Caruso, Director of Perkins Outreach Services ~ 175 North Beacon St. Watertown, MA 02472 ~ phone 617-972-7434 or

Routes Travel Birthright:
Taglit-Birthright Israel:

*date to be announced later this fall

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Quick mobility tips

Here are some quick & easy mobility tips from Chris Tabb, COMS (Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist).

As vacation times from busy school schedules are arriving soon, here are some suggested activities that will develop concepts and skills for independence that families can do together:

Take a trip together that includes the use of public transportation. Examples include: visiting New York City and traveling on the subway, city bus, train, and/or taxi while there; as a local option, many cities and towns in Connecticut are served by public transportation on a regular basis, and others have Express Service.

Go to the grocery store with your child and have them travel to the end of the aisle on their own to retrieve a favorite item for the cart. If you both are comfortable going further, to aisles “beyond arms reach”, this really provides for practicing skills of independence and problem solving in a safe environment. If parents need to stay connected with their child, two-way radios can provide the ability to be apart and still be “in touch” for reminders and questions.

Tactual Books Again!

I wanted to include more examples of tactual books to give everyone ideas for all the possibilities of things you can make books about. This example is a sample book a TVI who teaches MIVI/DB made.

She made this by replacing the pages from an APH Braille book. She also printed on Braille paper and then put the Braille underneathe the print. We used APH soundcards on the very last page to coorelate with the print/tactual pages.

This tactual book is an "All About Me..." book. Ask your TVI for 3 soundcards and the soundcard holder page and make your own book today!!

Now, Next & Finished Boards

Did you read my post on calendar systems? If you didn't get a chance, that's okay---I have included the link in this post. For this post, I included pictures of a 'now, next & finished board' communication system. I created this set for a child who is on the autism spectrum & is congenitally blind (ASDVI).

This is the first thing I want you to think about: how does my child understand time concepts? Do they understand the concept of 'now'? Time concepts can be difficult to teach and learn. Many educators use a 'finished/all done box system. (I will post more about finished boxes in another post). Finished boxes are great except they only have one problem: they only teach the concept of 'finished'. You also need to teach about now and next to make it a sequence.

Here's what I want you to read: "Let Me Check My Calendar" by Robbie Blaha

Sometimes using a complete calendar system is too much for a child. That is where now & next systems come in to play. They teach the foundation to learning how to use a full calendar system. Here is an example of how to make a now & next system.
The Now & Next boards:

I put a different texture over the finished board to help my student distinguish it
from the now & next boards.
There is a Braille label over the words 'now' & 'finished'.
(Font issues are not a factor for this student because she is not a print reader. I just wanted it to look cute. If font size and type was an issue, I would have chosen an easy to read font like Arial)

I used Velcro (or hook & loop) for attaching items.
I used a wide strip on the actual board to make it easier to mount item.

Objects for Now & Next boards:

-Foam board (can be purchased from an art supply store or JoAnn Fabrics)
-hot glue gun
-Fabric (for finished board)
-Velcro (or hook & loop)
-paper & Braille labels
(I also used a sturdy board to mount some of the objects to)
(keep in mind: symbols should be an actual representation or part of something from the actual activity. For example, the toothbrush represents toothbrushing. I found an item that looks like a tray to represent table work since the student uses a tray when working at the table.)
-I always get two or more of each symbol in as a backup.

A few tips about using now & next boards or calendar box systems:
-They are meant to be used to before and after an activity to reinforce time concepts or to pre-teach an activity.
-It is important to use consistent language and to use them consistently throughout the day.
-Give wait time for children to process. Encourge them to initiate activity. Follow their lead.
-Calendar box systems/now & next boards should be used naturally as part of activities. Write yourself cheat sheet notes to help you with language and what to do.
-Consult with your TVI for tips and strategies.
-Encourage your classroom teachers to use calendar box systems/now & next boards throughout the day at school.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Beepball tutorial from APE teacher & Camp Abilities students

I am happy to post the link to the first of hopefully more APE tutorials. This one is the beep baseball tutorial. It is lead by Justin Haegele, APE teacher. Beepball is a fun activity that our students play. It's also rad to get the whole family, classroom or even the neighborhood in on a game. We did it for family fun night at Camp Abilities and had a blast.

Basic equipment for playing beep baseball:
--large cones/standard beepball bases
--APH soundsource or other auditory sound source
--a batting tee
--beepball baseball

Check out the National Beep Baseball Association for more information,

Check out the beep baseball tutorial featuring Justin & the Camp Abilities counselor-in-trainings,

Grab a bat, a blindfold and some friends and have some fun!

DIY: Fall/Halloween Fun Literacy Project

I had this idea today while I was at the pumpkin patch with my two preschoolers. Some concepts are hard to learn about in a book. There are several of them and one of them are pumpkins. I live in New England and every time this year, dozens of families flock to pumpkin patches and buy a variety of pumpkins to decorate their front yards & front doors. It is not uncommon to recognize the true presence of fall by noting all the pumpkins and bales of hay or cornstalks everywhere.

How do we bring the seasons and the items of the seasons to our students? Well, you can start by reading a fall or Halloween book. Then pile the family in the car and head out to a pumpkin patch and spend the day or at least the afternoon exploring the patch! I know that this is possible for everyone as I lived in Las Vegas and did this very project with my students who were deafblind.

APH has a fun pumpkin book that was a favorite in my classroom. The book is "The Littlest Pumpkin". In the book, they talk about the leaves on the vine for the pumpkins and lost of fun things. While at the patch, feel each of these and bring some home. You can make an experience book of the whole event!!

Do it at home: Take a moment and make a plan to learn about fall season activities. Pre-teach about heading out for your adventure by reading your fall book ("The Littlest Pumpkin")--you make have to read it a few nights to help set a foundation. Head out to the patch and collect items that are found in the book. Here are some ideas: hay, cornstalk, pumpkin vine leaves, corn kernals, pumpkin seeds, etc. If you get a pumpkin, make sure you get a small one, too so you don't have to lug a big, heavy pumpkin onto your child's lap to discuss. Make an experience book about the specific things you did at the patch or farm. Let your child place the pumpkin in its spot so they know where it goes in your home. You can also carve it and scoop the gutts out, bake the seeds and clean it up---a complete project!! Happy fall to all :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My fave resource for teaching students who are deafblind

I can't believe I did not think of doing this sooner! I am sharing the link for Dr. Jan van Dijk for this post. When it comes to deafblindness, no one understand the beautiful, unique needs of deafblindness like van Dijk!

I had the honor of attending a conference on assessment with Dr. van Dijk at Perkins School for the Blind this past Monday. We had a special treat: we got to observe van Dijk work with a student for over an hour. It was awesome to watch how he assessed him, worked with him and then taught him.

Dr. van Dijk's approach is the method that I follow (and for that matter, what I think everyone should follow) when teaching deafblind children. I am not gonna even attempt in this post to summarize his strategies so I am posting several good links to learn more about Dr. van Dijk. Get a pen and paper and take some notes on this one!!

The official site of Dr. Jan van Dijk,
The van Dijk Approach to Child-Guided Assessment,
Let Me Check My Calendar,
Conversations without Language,
Four Essential Strategies,