Future Reflections                                                                                                 Special Issue 2004

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Chapter 5: Literacy Is For Everyone

Pre-Reading Activities for Blind Preschoolers

by Ruby Ryles, Ph.D.

Sometimes blind and visually impaired children come to preschool or kindergarten with less than average strength in their hands and fingers. This is the age that pre-reading and reading and writing activities should formally begin for children. Even if your child is not a future tactile reader, it is wise to spend time playing with him or her to develop arm, hand, and finger strength. Below is a partial list of activities you and your child might enjoy while doing just this. As you play you will find other activities which use these muscles. The goal is for your child to do the activity independently. But above all, have fun!

Arm and Hand Strength:

Weight-bearing activities such as: playing as a human wheelbarrow; creeping up hills or over obstacles; pushing a wagon, weighted box, or loaded sandbox trucks; and doing yoga positions: cat, cobra.

Grip and Finger Strength:

tearing paper and fabrics; squeezing water out of sponges, washcloths; squeezing bulb syringe medicine droppers; cutting with scissors on different textures and fabrics; using a paper-hole punch; playing with Play-Doh and bread dough; playing with manipulative toys—Legos®, TinkerToy® sets, snapblocks, pop beads; playing rope pull, tug of war; holding on to rope or hoop while being pulled on scooter; using clothespins; using tools—hammer, saw, screwdriver, nuts and bolts; using tongs or tweezers to pick up small objects; playing with magnets; opening jars and containers with lids; turning knobs or dials, pushing buttons; typing on manual typewriter; bowling; squirting water from empty soap bottle or squirt gun; “water painting” with large brush; doing simple cooking activities—stirring batters; using garlic press, potato masher, juicer, hand mixer, sifter, pouring water from one container to another; and using cookie cutters with Play-Doh or cookie dough; playing wash day—wringing out water from cloth and hanging on clothesline with clothespins; using stick or spoon handle to draw in wet sand; solving puzzles made from rubber; placing clay into plastic lid, patting smooth, and drawing pictures on it with pencil or stick; crumpling paper (vary the weight) and tossing to a target; tying knots (vary weight and density of cord); operating a stapler; opening rubber bands with one hand and placing on a tube or dowel; popping packing bubbles; and using easy grip pegs and pegboards.

This list of activities is provided with the cooperation of Peggy Jensen. Occupational Therapist, Marysville, Washington.

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