Future Reflections Fall 2008
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by Merry-Noel Chamberlain, MA, TVI, NOMCT
Editor’s Note: Merry-Noel Chamberlain is a recent winner of the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children award. She is also blind herself, the mother of a blind daughter, and a board member of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. The list below is an expanded version of the hand-out Chamberlain prepared for the Spring 2008 seminar about toys and games sponsored by the Iowa Parents of Blind Children (see the article about the seminar elsewhere in this issue).
To make sure you could get the maximum benefit from this list, the editor’s office researched each game online to see if it was available. By far the best location for the largest number of the games was Amazon.com, followed by the online or bricks and mortar stores for Toys “R” Us (Toysrus.com) and Target (Target.com). We have listed the location or locations that we found each game. We could not find a source for three or four of the games, but we left them on the list anyway. Perhaps your search will be more fruitful than ours. We also investigated the generic and specialized craft products and materials that Merry-Noel mentions in the second and third sections that could be used to adapt the games--such as puff paint and Dymo tape. A brief explanation describing where to find these products precedes those sections. Here is the list--have FUN!
This is a list, in three sections, of commercially available games that I’ve collected over the years. The first section contains games that are accessible straight out-of-the-box. The second section of the list is “Games Needing Adaptations Other Than Braille” and the third section is “Games Needing Braille Adaptations.” I’ve included some helpful hints and explanations in the second and third sections about how I adapted the games for my blind students. Please note that the lists do not include games made especially for individuals who are blind.
Accessible Games Straight Out-Of-The-Box:
1. 3-D Puzzles: Amazon.com
2. Bop-it and Bop-it Extreme: (Age 8+) Amazon.com, Target.com
3. Candy Land Castle Game: (Age 3+) Amazon.com, Target.com, Toysrus.com. Note: Although this game uses colored shapes, all similar shapes have the same color and don’t interfere with the game.
4. Counting Cookies: Cookies that have candies that look like M&Ms® for counting. (Age 2+) Amazon.com, EducationalLearningGames.com
5. Crocodile Dentist: (Age 3+) Hasbro.com, Amazon.com, Sillyastoys.com
6. Dominoes (traditional): (Ages 4+) Amazon.com, Target.com. Note: Most regular dominoes are tactual, but if you have a set that need adapting, see number eight in the second section of this game list.
7. Egg-Shape Sorter (Small World Express): (Age 3+) Smallworldtoys.com, Amazon.com. Note: The six egg shapes come in a toy egg carton, making it the perfect tool for learning about the six-dot configuration of a Braille cell.
8. Electronic Hot Potato – The Musical Potato Tossing Game: A plush potato you toss. (Ages 5+) Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Target.com
9. Inchwormstm: Each worm (one inch in length) snaps together to make learning to measure fun and easy. LearningResources.com, Amazon.com
10. Lacing & Tracing Shapes (also Lace & Trace Shapes): Amazon.com, Fatbraintoys.com
11. Latches Board: A board that has several types of window and door latches to open and shut. Amazon.com, Growingtreetoys.com, BarnesandNoble.com
12. Learning Resources Stacking Shapes Pegboard: Amazon.com. Note: This is fun for creating Braille dot patterns.
13. Magnetic Capital Letters (letters embossed with Braille) (Ages 3+) Amazon.com
14. Magnetic Numbers (numbers embossed with Braille) (Ages 3+) Amazon.com
15. Mancala: (Age 6+) Amazon.com, Boardgamecentral.com, Toysrus.com. Note: I prefer the game board that folds into two sections because it creates two perfect Braille cells. By playing the game end-to-end, it gives a great opportunity to review Braille contractions as you play.
16. Manuscript Letter Beads (R2184): ROYLCO, Inc. Amazon.com, Eofficedirect.com, Shopping.msn.com. Note: This is a great way to create words and sentences, then have the student Braille them onto paper. It has many other uses, too. These also come in numbers.
17. Nickelodeon Dora Talking I-Crayons: Six crayons with one removable electronic crayon topper that speaks the color of the crayon in English and Spanish. (The topper can only be used with crayons in the Dora set.) Target.com, NFB.org/nfb/Independence_Market.asp
18. Oreo Matchin’ Middles: (Ages 3-7) Fisher-Price-Toys.com (takes you to Amazon.com). Cookies (like Oreos) that have tactual centers for matching. Note: This is a great memory game.
19. Othello Magnetic: (Age 8+) Tsukuda Original. Editor’s note: We could not find an online source.
20. Play with Letters Desk (77821): Fisher Price. Editor’s note: We could not find an online source. Author’s note: This has raised tactual letters with Braille. However, the Braille on the “W” was manufactured reversed. I wrote to the Fisher Price Company and they exchanged it.
21. Simon: Each color has its own distinct sound as it lights up. Amazon.com, Toysrus.com
22. Smart Snacks Counting Cookies (see also Counting Cookies, number four on this list): Cookies that have tactual candies for counting. Amazon.com, Fatbraintoys.com. Note: A new educational version speaks, “Can I have another?” It’s called Count and Learn Cookie Jar. (I don’t have it, yet.)
23. Smart Snacks Sorting Shapes Cupcakes: (Age 2+) Amazon.com, Target.com. Note: Another great game for beginning Braille learners.
24. Spin the Beetle: (Age 3 – 6) Hasbro.com. Note: The child may need to use tactual methods to determine to whom the beetle is pointing.
25. Tater Toss Game: A wind-up plastic red potato. (Age 3+) Schylling. Amazon.com, Kazootoys.com
26. Thin Ice: Amazon.com. Note: Play this with or without the tweezers.
27. Tic-Tac-Toe: Author’s note: Many commercial brands of Tic-Tac-Toe are accessible but I like the one by Luxurious the best because the pieces stay contained on the game board. This brand is available from the NFB Independence Market <www.nfb.org/nfb/Independence_Market.asp>. Note: After playing the game, I cover a row and see how many Braille contractions the student can find with the “X’s” or the “O’s”, then I turn the board around to find more.
Materials Used to Adapt Games:
Editor’s Note: A few of the products used to adapt the games in the following two sections are easily obtained at any craft, fabric, or hardware store. Several, however, are specialized products for the blind and may only be available from a few locations. Some of the products are generic; others are specific brand-name products. To assist in locating these materials, here is a list of the items and suggested sources in alphabetical order. We did not attempt to identify all possible sources, so many of the products may be available from other places. Here are the Web sites for the three specialized sources listed below: NFB Independence Market (NFB-IM), <www.nfb.org/nfb/Independence_Market.asp>; American Printing House for the Blind (APH), <www.APH.org>; and Independent Living Aids, LLC (ILA), <www.IndependentLiving.com>. Here is the list:
Braille dice--Available from the NFB-IM and ILA.
Braille graph paper--Embossed graph sheets available from APH.
Braille label sheets--Clear plastic label sheets with peel-off adhesive backing.
Braille stickers--Available from ILA.
Duct tape--Generic name of a commonly used tape originally designed for the construction industry. Available in hardware stores.
Dymo tape--Transparent labeling tape. It comes in rolls of ½ inch by 12 feet with a peel-off adhesive backing. Available from NFB-IM and other suppliers of Braille materials.
Elmer’s Glue--Available wherever you can buy children’s school supplies or crafts.
Feel ‘n Peel stickers--Tactual stickers available from APH.
Graphic tape--Graphic Art Tape available from APH.
Hot glue--Generic item available in almost any craft store.
Puff paint--Generic item available in almost any craft store. Might also be able to use Liquid Tactile Marker available from NFB-IM.
Sticky foam--Foam shapes with a peel-off backing. Very popular and available in most craft stores.
Talking dice--Talking Glow Dice, available from APH.
Talking timer--Available from NFB-IM.
Textured tape--Ribbon with peel-off adhesive backing. Available in craft stores.
Velcro--A brand name and a common product available in craft and fabric stores.
Games Needing Adaptations Other Than Braille:
1. 15 Numbers Puzzle: (Age 6+) Woodexpressions.com. Adaptation: A dab of puff paint on the number “9” so it doesn’t get confused with the “6”. (It has a mark but it isn’t very tactual.)
2. 3D Snakes & Ladders (the American version is called Chutes & Ladders): (Age 5+) Amazon.com, Target.com. Adaptation: Use textured tape or graphic tape to underline the rows where the player must go left. Use a Braille label sheet to emboss a thin line of Braille dots to underline the rows where the player must go right. Put tape around one of the marbles. Use talking dice or Braille dice.
3. Amaze: Amazon.com, Kazootoys.com, Target.com. Adaptation: Cut Braille graph paper to the size of each of the game puzzle cards, then use tactual stickers to indicate how to set up each puzzle challenge. Clip the top right corner of the card to show which side is up. Each puzzle card will be different, so each card will need to be adapted individually.
4. Bouncin’ Bugs: (Age 8+) Discovery Toys, Inc. This toy has been discontinued but may be available on eBay. Adaptation: Same as for the game Amaze.
5. Candy Land: (Age 3+) Amazon.com, Toysrus.com, and just about any store where games can be purchased. Adaptation: Use Feel ‘n Peel stickers (both sets). Use graphic tape for the shortcut paths.
6. Connect Four: (Age 7+) Hasbrotoyshop.com, Target.com, Toysrus.com, and many other locations. Adaptation: Because the centers of the game pieces are textured, use Elmer’s glue to fill in both sides of the centers of one color. The glue will shrink down as it dries, and it takes three layers of glue to make the pieces thick and smooth. The unmodified opponent’s pieces will be noticeably thinner and rough to the touch. Puff paint may work, but it is important to keep the pieces thin so they can slide through the slot.
7. Connect-O-Round: (Age 7+) Hasbrotoyshop.com, Toysrus.com, Target.com. Much like Connect Four. Adaptation: Use hot glue to fill in the middle of the game pieces for one player. Be sure to keep the pieces thin enough so they will slide through the slot.
8. Dominoes (traditional): Available from almost any location where games are sold. Adaptation: Most dominoes are tactual; however, if your set is not, use Feel ‘n Peel stickers. You might want to put magnets on the back of the pieces and play the game on a cookie sheet to help them stay in place.
9. Henry: Tiger Electronics. Available only on eBay. Adaptation: This game is not totally accessible when played solo. However, when playing with others, one can use a graph technique to announce each move. Number the columns from the left to the right and letter the rows from top to bottom. For example “B – 4” means the button located on the second row and in the fourth column.
10. Lucky Ducks: (Age 3 – 6) Amazon.com, Target.com, Toysrus.com, other locations that sell games. Adaptation: Place Feel ‘n Peel stickers under the colored duck pieces. Be sure that you select matching textures for each color. Alternatively, if your child can identify Braille letters, you can use Dymo tape to mark each duck with the first letter of the color (example, “y” for yellow).
11. No Peeking: (Age 3 – 8) Ravensburger. Editor’s note: Could only locate UK Web sites for this game. Adaptation: Place Feel ‘n Peel stickers on the pieces.
12. Othello: (Age 8+) Amazon.com, Target.com, Toysrus.com. Adaptation: Use graphic tape to line the grid. Place a tactual sticker on one side of the playing pieces. The pocket version of Othello has a tactual grid but playing pieces will still need tactual stickers.
13. Rush Hour Deluxe Edition: (Age 8+) Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Fatbraintoys.com, Target.com, Toysrus.com. Adaptation: Use Braille graph paper to cut to the size of the parking lot game board. Use consistent tactual markings for the pictures on the playing cards which show the players where to place their playing piece vehicles on the parking lot. For example, you might put the same tactual stickers in a row for a car using two spaces, strips of sand paper for longer cars, and puff paint around the edges for the longest trucks. Place duct tape over the edge of the opening.
14. Shift-Tac-Toe: (Age 6+) A shifting-sliding Tick-Tac-Toe game. No longer available at Walgreen’s online, but Abstractstrategy.com offers places to find it. Adaptation: Use puff paint, tactual stickers, or other tactual material to place an “X” or “O” on both sides of one of the player’s pieces.
15. Pop-O-Matic Trouble: (Age 5+) Miltonbradley.com, Amazon.com. Adaptation: Use graphic tape in a variety of ways to distinguish one player’s pieces from another. Example: Leave one player’s pieces bare. Use thin graphic tape once around a second player’s pieces. Put two strips around a third player’s pieces, and place thick graphic tape on the top and upper position of the fourth player’s pieces. Use the same method to indicate each player’s finish and home positions.
16. Who Lives Where: (Age 3+) Amazon.com, Cadaco.com, Target.com. Adaptation: Place a tactual sticker on the front bottom of the house to assist with placement of which way is the top.
Games Needing Braille Adaptation:
1. A to Z Jr.: (Age 5+) Discovery Toys, Inc. Discontinued but may be available on eBay, and/or check with your Discovery Toys independent educational consultant. If you do not know of one in your area, contact NFB member and Discovery Toy consultant Melissa Riccobono at <firstname.lastname@example.org>, or shop online at <www.discoverytoyslink.com/riccobono>. Adaptation: Braille the letter game board and cards. Use Braille dice and change the meanings for numbers 5 and 6 to represent the game dice. The game board provided with this game can be used for a variety of other lessons.
2. Bingo cards: OrientalTradingPost.com, Nobbies.com. Adaptation: Braille the cards or make your own cards. Bingo boards can be Brailled also. (See instructions about making flash cards in the “Other Helpful Hints” section at the conclusion of this game list.)
3. Boggle Jr. (Your preschooler’s first Boggle Game): (Ages 3 – 6) Amazon.com, Boardgames.com, Hasbrotoyshop.com. Adaptation: Use Dymo tape or Braille peel-off label sheets to Braille the letter cubes with a capital sign to indicate which way is up. Number the cards and record the picture on a cassette for individual play. Place Braille numbers on the front left side of the cards so the child can place the cards in the correct order. Braille the picture words upside down on the top back side of the card. Use only one card at a time in the holder to allow the child to read the Braille.
4. 4-Way Countdown: (Age 6+) Amazon.com, Boardgames.com, Cadaco.com. Adaptation: Braille the dice. Brailling the game board is optional. You may want to place a foam or felt pad in the box to make it less noisy.
5. Crayola® Triangular Crayons: Crayolastore.com. Adaptation: These anti-roll crayons are perfect for labeling with Braille.
6. Pizza Fraction Fun: LearningResources.com, Amazon.com. Adaptation: With some creativity, this can be made very tactual by gluing thick string around the green pepper slices, cutting felt into mushroom shapes, using loose leaf hole protectors for olives, using Feel ‘n Peel stickers for the pepperoni, etc. Put the tactual items on one side of the slice of pizza and put Braille labels on the other side.
7. I SPY – Word Scramble: (Age 7+) Amazon.com, Target.com. Adaptation: Braille the game board and cards. Use a talking timer. (You will have to purchase this separately from NFB-IM or other specialized sources.) Note: This game is a great teaching tool for a variety of Braille lessons.
8. Letter Flip: (Age 10+) Out of the Box. otb-games.com, Amazon.com. Adaptation: Braille the letters upside down on the back of each tile. Braille the cards. Note: This is a great teaching tool that can be used for a variety of lessons. Cover the print letters with duct tape to enhance Braille skills.
9. RACKO: (Age 8+) Hasbrotoyshop.com, Amazon.com. Adaptation: This game has a plastic “rack” in which the cards sit. You will want to place the Braille numbers on the cards so that the child can reach over and down to read the Braille on the bottom of the backside of the card as it sits in the rack. (It is awkward to try and read the dots while the card is in the rack if the Braille is aligned on the top.) Clip the top right corner of the card so that the child knows which side is up on the print. This game gives children good practice in reading and manipulating cards independently.
10. Sorry Revenge: (Age 6+) Hasbrotoyshop.com, Amazon.com. Adaptation: Cards need to be Brailled.
11. Spell Time – Only the right letter fits!: (Age 3 – 5) Cadaco.com, Amazon.com, Educationallearninggames.com. Adaptation: Tiles and cards need to be Brailled. Pictures need tactual stickers.
12. Sudoku: (Ages 8+) Amazon.com Adaptation: When Brailling numbers on the tiles, be sure to use number signs so players can orient the tiles correctly. Two print colors are used to indicate how to set up the board. Braille the game set-up options on Braille graph paper and use puff paint or graphic tape to underline the set-up numbers as indicated in the directions. Use graphic tape to form the grid on the game board. Editor’s note: The NFB Independence Market, <www.nfb.org/nfb/Independence_Market.asp>, sells a pre-adapted Sudoku game.
13. Sum Time: Math game. (Ages 3 – 5) Cadaco.com, Drugstore.com, Educationallearninggames.com. Adaptation: Tiles and cards need to be Brailled. Pictures need tactual stickers.
14. Twister: Editor’s Note: See detailed article by Loretta White elsewhere in this issue.
15. Upwords: (Age 10+) Hasbrotoyshop.com, Amazon.com. Adaptation: Put Braille on the tiles and use Graphic Art Tape on the game board.
16. Word Flip: (Age 8+) Discovery Toys. Adaptation: Braille the word cards and find another container to store them in because they will now be too thick to all go into the playing box with the window slots that they come in. Since only one word card needs to be in the window slot at a time when playing the game, that’s not a problem. Next, find a piece of firm foam (about ½ inch thick) that you can cut to fit permanently into the window slot of the playing box. Since the other cards will no longer be stored behind the top card as it is played, something needs to be there to hold the card flush against the window opening so that the child can read the Braille on the card.
17. Yahtzee Turbo: (Age 7+) Hasbrotoyshop.com, Amazon.com, Target.com. Adaptation: Braille the cards. Five Braille dice will need to be substituted for the dice in the game. (The game shows matching colors for each number on the dice but this is not pertinent for the game.) This is a fast moving game, so it might be frustrating for readers too slow to keep up.
Other Helpful Hints:
1. Use plastic cards when possible because the Braille will hold up longer and be less likely to flatten out. I prefer to use Braille plastic label sheets to label the cardboard cards.
2. Game lids or other shallow boxes can be used to contain dice when rolled.
3. A microwave bacon cooker can be used to help organize playing cards.
4. Collect a variety of sizes and shapes of shampoo, soap, or other types of bottle lids to use as game pieces.
5. For games that require marbles, substitute beads so that players can distinguish their pieces from others.
6. Create a tactual coloring board or screen by duct-taping a piece of plastic or metal screen onto thin plywood or very thick cardboard. Place paper on top of the screen and color onto the paper with any ordinary crayon. The screen creates a nice easy-to-feel texture on the paper.
7. To encourage tactual Braille reading, make Braille flash cards out of old playing cards. Emboss the Braille so that the dots are read on the backside of the cards. The visual clutter on the card discourages the low vision reader from trying to read the Braille with his or her eyes.
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