Basic Toys for Blind Preschoolers

By Carla Ruschival

People always seem to think that the ideal toy for a blind child is one that talks or plays music. While it is true that such toys are fun and entertaining, it is also true that a blind preschooler needs many other types of toys as well, including those that build manual dexterity, encourage discrimination of shape and size through touch, and allow the child to learn problem-solving skills.

  1. Measure Up! Cups by Discovery Toys: There are many nesting cups and blocks on the market, but the Measure Up! Cups are terrific. The 12 brightly-colored cups have raised numbers in the bottom from 1 (smallest) to 12 (largest). Fit them inside one another or turn them over and build a tower. A raised ring around the bottom edge of each cup prevents towers from toppling too easily when touched. Use the cups to encourage the blind preschool child to reach, grasp, and build; to explore size; and to solve problems (which cup comes next).
  2. The Giant Pegboard from Discovery Toys: Even though a blind child may not be able to see the colors of this toy, he or she will have lots of fun putting the pegs in their holes. Pegs are arranged in five rows of five pegs each on a 10-inch square plastic board. Each round peg is easy to grasp, and has a hole in its top so pegs can be stacked. Use this toy to build hand and finger dexterity and problem-solving. Encourage counting and teach spatial relationships such as top, bottom, left and right. Teach basic shapes by placing pegs in a square or rectangle and asking the child to make the same shape. Turn the board over and stretch rubber bands around the raised bumps to make geometric shapes; allow the child to do the same.
  3. Shape-O Ball from Tupperware: There are many shape sorters on the market, but Tupperware's Shape-O Ball is head and shoulders above the competition. With 10 shapes, each with a raised number, quality construction (smooth edges), and no-spill storage inside the ball, this is the ideal take-along toy. Keep down frustration and build self-confidence by letting the child start out with only 2 or 3 distinct shapes, such at round, star, and triangle. Let him explore the ball and fit the shapes into their spaces. Let him shake the ball with the shapes inside and enjoy the sound and his success. Then help him open the ball, dump out the shapes and do it all again. Add more shapes as he gains skill and confidence. A great toy for building finger dexterity and encouraging exploration of surroundings.

With these three toys, your blind child will have hours and hours of educational play with no batteries needed.

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