Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Friday, October 08, 2010

All-In-One Board Makes Learning Fun

by Kristie Smith-Armand, M.Ed, CTVI
“You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.” ~Clay P. Bedford
I recently discovered an item from the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) after my friend and fellow vision teacher, Karen Clay, told me about it.
“You need to order several of these,” Karen told me on the phone one day. “There are so many useful ways to teach with this board and the materials that go along with it for all of your students,” Karen encouraged.
Karen and others who know me understand that I am fanatical about great teaching materials. I am a self-confessed vision nerd. People in my department and others are always laughing when they hear me opening up my new materials from APH, Discovery Toys, FlagHouse, Frog Street Press, etc. because I am loudly expressing my joy that makes learning exciting.
The other day while standing in my office, I put on my black apron from APH’s TOAD kit and was beaming that I now had an apron to use when working with my children who have cortical vision impairment (cvi). The physical therapist jokingly told me that I really needed to get a life and then asked, “Hey, can you get me one of those?”
After my fellow-vision nerd, I mean teacher told me about the All-in-One Board as well as the Textured Sorting Circles and Shapes (also from APH), I ordered one board. I waited a few weeks and then I ordered three more boards. I know and love Jim Durkell, who handles our APH materials, and was happy when he didn’t comment on my obsession with my new discovery.
The All-in-One Board is much to be excited about as it has a magnetic and VELCRO® brand side. You can use homemade items or the really cool Textured Sorting Circles and Shapes to teach concepts. The board comes complete with a package of dry erase markers, protective storing and carrying case and of course, the board itself.
I also use the All-In-One-Board with my toddlers. Teaching little ones to scribble and color is a very important brain developing skill for pre-writing and fine motor development. The children love their ‘scribble’ board.
For one of my older students in middle school who has a cognitive delay, we work on money skills, adding, subtracting and word building weekly with the All-In-One Board. He loves putting the materials on and then taking them off when we change our objectives. My student has a very short attention span, however, I can maintain his attention for thirty minutes when I am doing skills with the All-In-One Board.
There are many students who can be taught numerous skills with the All-in-One Board in every subject matter. Imagine a classroom teacher teaching in the classroom about the planets. With flannel-shaped planets, the student without vision would have a solid representation of how the planets lined up in distances from the sun.
Story time and flannel board stories are also a favorite for many students. Reading skills such as vocabulary development, recalling details, character development and understanding plot, setting and characters along with many other objectives can be better understood with this amazing item.
The Textured Sorting Circles and Shapes that I use frequently with the All-in-One Board come in a variety of textures, sizes and three basic colors: red, yellow and blue. What a great way to incorporate a Venn diagram to help children to understand similarities and differences. I also use the two items together when I am working with toddlers and teaching them to match shapes and colors, understanding the words big and small, positional words as well as likenesses and differences.
For my students with multiple disabilities, the All-In-One Board offers a black background of felt, so that a teacher or parent can easily add high contrast yellow or red felt characters, shapes or objects on the board.
The All-in-One Board has many professionals talking and children excited about learning new skills with a product that encourages interaction and a high interest level. When children learn and are having fun with The All-In-One-Board they will agree with Dr. Seuss’ wise words: “Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”

VELCRO®, VELTEX®, and VELCOIN® are registered trademarks of VELCRO Industries B.V.

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