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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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The TOAD Assessment and Activity Kit Croaks Away Frustration

by Kristie Smith, M.Ed, CTVI

Toad Dreams

That afternoon the dream of the toads
rang through the elms by Little River
and affected the thoughts of men,
though they were not conscious that
they heard it.--Henry Thoreau

The other day, my mother, Jamille and I did a training on activities and brain research for infants who have a visual impairment at Region XI Service Center. The staff and audience were unbelievably talented and willing to learn and give input on ways that would incorporate fun activities while encouraging brain activity for the infant or students with MIVI (Multiple Impairment and Visual Impairment) who have a visual impairment, although the strategies work for all infants as well.

The audience and I were discussing different assessment kits that were outstanding for our students under the age of three. I pulled out the TOAD Kit from APH and the group and I began exploring the incredible items that were not only good for assessment but for activities for weekly lessons. You have two matching red puppets excellent for shifting gaze, a brightly colored yellow pompom (remember yellow is the first color the brain sees) for tracking, tactually exploring and reaching.

Another impressive item in the TOAD Kit was a puzzle book where the student can see a picture of a spoon while holding a real spoon in hand and a large picture of a toothbrush with a real object spoon. The child may then recognize that the two represent the same object. There are many large high contrast pictures in the puzzle book like: a face of a woman, a Frog Pond Seek-and-Find Puzzle for students to scan and point out details and many other activities that are great for assessing and to be used as a lesson for children who have a visual impairment.

The TOAD Kit continues in its greatness: a black apron for eliminating clutter, a black glove (wonderful to use for exploring the environment for children with cortical vision impairment), a puzzle set for the lite box, jingle bells for searching and scanning, and colored bowls and three balls that are excellent choices for object permanence.

The training that my mother and I do is called Wee Play, Wee Learn. The workshop includes many activities from my book, Wee Play, Wee Learn by FlagHouse and brain research from Dr. Pam Schiller’s book, Start Smart. During the training I try to emphasize the best of the best books, supplementary and testing materials, videos and many other resources that demonstrate our little ones with a visual impairment must be taught early so that the brain is correctly wired for learning.

There is no better way to “croak” away frustrations for learning and assessment than using The TOAD Kit from APH. What other kit comes complete with assessment, lessons, and materials all in one big black box?

As the poem states, “the dreams of the TOAD rang through the elms and into the thoughts of men” because once you lay your eyes on this kit, you will not look any further.

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