Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Magnifier Discovery Board

Happy March! I am sorry that I have not blogged since the beginning of the month! The time has just flown by as I have been adventuring it with new friends in Canada. I had the pleasure of presenting in Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon over the past two weeks. I loved meeting their teachers, parents and related service providers. But you know me, I was on the look out for ideas for our kids! I loved brainstorming ideas that support the Expanded Core Curriculum. 

One idea I wanted to share was this one from CNIB (in Calgary, Alberta) early childhood hallway. They had several of these discovery boards but the magnification one really caught my eye. This board is a painted white with little items to discover with mounted magnifiers. I suspected that these are 4x handheld magnifiers. Three of the magnifiers have a light option.

The bottom magnifier with the long adjustable neck isn't the strongest of the magnifiers but it is fun for little hands to use. Notice that the maggie right above the bottom maggie has red shiny paper on the handle (hello visual efficiency!). The magnifier is mounted to a hinge.
I love this idea for many reasons; the discovery fun with the magnifiers and getting our kids comfortable with using magnifiers. I also thought this would be something that could be added to a center in a general education classroom. This is another great idea that helps our students as well as engages our sighted kids as well. You know my next question...what areas of the ECC could you incorporate into this discovery board?
The items that they used were permanently mounted to the board. I had another idea that I thought of was using a magnetic board that you could spray paint. I wonder if you could use the magnetic backing to swap out new items? I'm going to make some of my own (thanks to CNIB!) and I will post  pics and updates if it was or was not a good idea. 

Special note: make sure that you use magnifiers with a power of at least 4x (x=power). I dispensed magnifiers for several years with students and I have found that most students need at least a 4x. 4x handheld "maggies" (my code word for magnifiers) are usually the minimum strength that our kids can use. A lot of school age students would rather die than use a handheld maggie. Dome maggies seem to be a home run with our kids. They come in a variety of different sizes. Most are 4x. You can order handheld magnifiers for a reasonable price. 
There are several places that you can order handheld magnifiers with and without lights. The prices can vary. The stronger the power of the magnifier, the more skill required. Dome magnifiers and 3.5x/4x handhelds are pretty easy for kids to use. I find that one of the most family friendly places to recommend are places like MaxiAids or Independent Living Aids. You can order a handheld at 
www.maxiaids.com: the cost is about $14-$25. Dome magnifiers can run anywhere from $14-$35 and are pretty reliable, easy to use durable items. 

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