American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
Future Reflections Winter 2017 EARLY CHILDHOOD
by Amber Bobnar
Reprinted from <www.wonderbaby.org>
From the Editor: Arts and crafts encourage creativity and help children build spatial concepts. They also help develop tactile sensitivity and fine motor coordination, invaluable for kids who will be learning Braille. Best of all, arts and crafts can be fun for the whole family. Here are some ideas for arts and crafts projects to engage young blind children.
Can a blind preschooler be included in preschool arts and crafts? Of course!
Preschool art projects usually involve simple fine motor skills (drawing or gluing), beginning planning skills (figuring out what to draw or where to glue), and constructive play (building something). Do these sound like skills any child should be learning, blind or sighted? Yes!
You will want to plan ahead to make sure the project is accessible. Also, if your child has issues with different textures, you should probably work on addressing that problem now. You can find some tips at <www.wonderbaby.org> and in the article "I Don't Like That!" elsewhere in this issue of Future Reflections.
But if your kiddo doesn't have problems with touching different types of textures, then you're already way ahead of the game. And messy play can be really great developmental play, too! Keep reading for some tips on making preschool art time accessible for kids who are blind or visually impaired.
1. You can purchase raised-line coloring books from several sources listed below.
2. Take a regular coloring book and outline the lines with puffy paint or Wikki Stix.
3. Purchase a raised-line drawing board so that anything your child draws can be felt on the paper after he or she draws it.
4. Get a raised-line sketchpad.
5. You can always make a drawing board yourself just by placing the paper on top of a screen. When you draw on it the lines are bumpy, and you can feel them.
6. It can also be fun to draw with scented markers, so your child can smell what he's drawn.
7. Start by getting your child used to the idea of sticking objects to paper. You can try this sticky collage project with packing tape. The entire surface is sticky, so no matter where you place an object, it'll stick.
8. Work up to using glue. I think glue sticks are great, because you can make a large area on the paper sticky. Then your child can find the glue with one hand while placing objects on the paper with the other.
9. You can also dab a little glue on the object for him (like, say, a dried flower) and then have him place it on the paper. Eventually, as he begins to understand the concept, you can work up to having him apply the glue himself. He will need help to start with (as would any child).
And yes, glue will be messy and sticky, but we just have to be okay with that!
10. My son made a scented collage in school the other day. They started with a paper plate, brushed glue over the whole surface, then had Ivan place different scented dried herbs on the plate. He came home with glue in his hair ... but that's okay!
11. Set up a "wash station." I remember when I was a child that the teacher kept a sponge in a small bowl with water. We could use it to wipe our fingers on in between applying the glue. Maybe if you have a little wash station set up, that could help with the mess, too.
12. And one more idea: you could also create a glue "template" by cutting out a small circle area in a larger piece of cardboard. Your child can place the template on the paper where she wants the glue to go and just put the glue in the circle space. Now she knows exactly where the glue is!
I hope some of these tips will help you create a fun and accessible arts and crafts project with your kids. And if you have any other advice, please let us know in the comments section at <www.wonderbaby.org>.
Raised-line Coloring Books
National Federation of the Blind Independence Market
200 E. Wells St. at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21230
Raised-Line Drawing Board
Sensational Blackboard Raised-Line Drawing Board
Intact Raised Line Drawing Kit
These three products are available from the NFB Independence Market.