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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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Tactile Town: Part Two

By Kristie Smith

I recently wrote a blog on the new Tactile Town item from APH.  I took the pieces from the kit (which are neatly organized) and began building my own town before my student and I begin our new lesson today.  She struggles with the concept of north, south, east and west, and while I love the mnemonics for how to teach directions: Never Eat Soggy Worms, she needs hands-on and fun activities that will encourage her to not only learn directional skills but retain them for the rest of her life. 

When children are having fun, they are learning life skills that are long-lasting.  The more fun a child has the more he/she will not only learn and retain the information, they will also apply problem solving skills to other goals.

More Fun Activities for Tactile Town

  • A Walk in the Park-  After you have laid out the following pieces:  the pond, green felt pieces for grass, movable people, directions and Braille or large print labels, take your student on an imaginary trip through the park.  Ask them to locate the pond for example.  Tease them when they tell you the location such as it is located north east from the trees, and squirt them with water on their hands.  They will laugh and have a real experience of the park.   When asked to find a friend who is lost in the park, the child will give directions by feeling of the direction of the lost movable figure.  Put the game up and ask the student to write a brief paragraph about what happened when their friend was lost in the park.  
  • Another ideas for a Walk in the Park- is for the child to make a picnic lunch such as a sandwich and store chips into a plastic baggy.  Ask the student to locate a great place for a picnic by moving the movable characters while giving you directions.  Sit down outside after the game is over, and enjoy a picnic lunch with the child.  
  • Have the child listen to the sound of a recorded train.  Help him/her to locate the train tracks on the black felt board.  Sing the following song, “Little Red Caboose”- Little Red Caboose, Little Red Caboose, Little Red Caboose behind the traaaiiin, traaaain, smoke stack on his back, going down the track, Little Red Caboose behind the train, toot-toot.”  Discuss the words “toot-toot” and recognize them as onomatopoeia words.  
  • Buy or make other pieces of felt that will help tell a child’s story using the different directions.  
  • Have a social skill lesson on what to do if a child with a visual impairment gets lost in a store.  Role-play the scene using Tactile Town. 
  • Play Tic-Tac-Toe  
  • Have two children select cars and make a road for the other way to travel.  The students will write out clear directions for their partner using north, south, east, west, etc.  
  • Reading Game- Have two partners to feel their way around the board while reading brailled or large print letters. 

The most important thing to remember when using this magnificent tool for learning directions and many other skills is to have fun!  I have memorized and love the brilliant words from Dr. Seuss when he said, “You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.  You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…."

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