Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sensory Trees

This year during the weeks before our holiday break, I decided to do a textured tree.  The idea popped into my ADD brain one afternoon.  I shredded green computer paper in my crosscut shredder and used the paper as pine needles on the pre-drawn pine tree shapes.  I drew the tree on poster board cut into four pieces. The first step is to spread glue to cover the entire tree. Don't be stingy.  The next step is to sprinkle the paper pine needles all over the tree, then pat them down.   Shake all of the excess needles back into the container.  If there aren't enough, continue to add more to fill in empty spaces.  
Sprinkling methods 1. Place the paper on your hand and have the student knock it onto the tree. 2.  Have the student pinch the paper and sprinkle. 3.  Use an extra large spice container with a big opening.  

After the tree is green, you can add ornaments.  I used the many left overs that I had from my time in a classroom.  You could add string, or other materials.  

If you have a student who is blind, you may want to mark the lines with hot glue.  This will help if the student uses her finger to spread the glue inside the lines.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 2012 Activities

This month I focused on attributes.  I read a book called The Littlest Pumpkin which focused on big and little.  I created some pumpkin eggs to demonstrate heavy and light.  I filled half of the plastic eggs with fish gravel.  After I drew on the faces, I used clear packing tape to keep the eggs from coming open.

The eggs could be used for a sorting activity for some students.  My students dropped the eggs into a metal bowl and listened to the different sounds.  

I used the ball with an elastic strap with my students with Cortical Visual Impairment.  I added the face to the bright orange ball.

Friday, May 11, 2012


My students created a book called "Where's My Mom?"  Each book had a textured caterpillar on the cover page.  The next two pages said, "That's not my mom."  The last page said, "That is my mom.  The goal is to match the "mom" butterfly to the caterpillar.  I used an Ellison Press to cut the butterflies and caterpillars from textured paper available from APH.  It was a good lesson for teaching the concepts - same and different.  If you present the caterpillar, matching butterfly, and a non-matching butterfly, the student can find the texture that is different.  I continued this way until the butterfly that was left was the "mom" butterfly.

We also made a butterfly from a coffee filter.  Some of my students painted their butterfly on the Mini-Lite Box from APH.  I used shiny pipe cleaners to make the antennae, and bright colored clothes pins for the body.  We used watercolor paints and brushes.  Try not to let the filter get too wet, or wait until it dries to add the antennae.  Wrap the pipe cleaner around the body, then twist.  I used plastic clothes pins, but you could use the wooden pins and paint them.

If you have a student with low vision or CVI (Cortical Visual Impairment), shiny pipe cleaners can be a quick way to highlight pictures or objects.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

That’s Not My Bear

I read the book That's Not My Bear available from APH.  After we finished reading the book, my student made her own book.  I showed her four bears made of different textures.  She chose the one she liked and that became "her" bear. We placed this bear on the page that said "That's my bear," then she chose which bear she wanted to put on the cover and the other pages of her book.

ECC Open House

Our department recently hosted an ECC (Expanded Core Curriculum) Open House.  I worked with two other teachers on the area of Sensory Efficiency.

We decided to base our display on the book Rosie's Walk.  We developed sensory activities that could be used with the book.  We matched the activities to the pages in the book.

Each element of the picture was outlined with a different tactile.  The barn was outlined with a pipe cleaner.  The fox was outlined with hot glue.  The hen was outlined with Wikki Stix.

The pond was a silver bowl of water with light up ducks.  The larger ducks were found at the dollar store.


The fence was created with a cardboard box surrounded by a sheet of brown poster board.  We placed a tactile matching activity behind the fence.

I filled 12 yellow plastic eggs to make 6 pairs of matching sounds. The eggs were placed in yellow "hay."  When the student matches two eggs they are placed in the egg carton.

This light box activity was easy to create.  I used foam "bees" and glitter in yellow colored hair gel.

We included a "taste test" with a data collection sheet.  The students had to mark the chart under the color jelly bean that they thought was the sweetest.  We made this more difficult by using sour jelly beans.

Sensory activities can be used with many children's books. 

March Ideas

I used St. Patrick’s Day as my theme this month. My son helped to write the book Five Little Leprechauns using Boardmaker. I mixed glitter in with green paint, and used green peppers to stamp clover onto white paper. We explored the green peppers before we used them to stamp. The students touched and smelled the peppers.  If you would like a copy of the book, you can download it from here. Print it out, laminate, and bind

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tactile Discrimination

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 I saw an activity like this on Pinterest, but I couldn’t find it again. I have learned to pin or like anything I want to see again. Pinterest is a great place to find ideas and save them with a picture to remember what you have saved. It is a visual list of your "favorites." Each picture is a link to the web page where you found the activity, idea, or picture.

One of the pre-braille skills students need to learn is to discriminate items or textures by touch.  

We have an abundance of long file folders in our office, so my goal was to make use of them.  I used the embosser to create dot hands and placed them on the folder.  I used also used 6 different textured papers/sheets. I placed one of each texture under the hand, then used a Velcro dot in the middle of the hand.  The Velcro on the back of the textured squares is larger to make it easier to stick it to the piece on the hand.  The object of the activity is to explore the texture under each hand and place its match in the hand. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012


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I used the Rolling Right Along Construction Kit to create a book for a preschool student. The weather pictures are created using textured papers. Each type of weather has a different texture and shape. The student rolls the ball along the velcro path. The words of the class weather songs are included so the student can read or sing the words as he moves the ball across the pages.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Textured Snowmen

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I love snow and especially snow days, so this month some of my activities have centered around snowmen. I created this activity for my students who are blind or have low vision.
I created a snowman using QuickTac by Duxbury. This program allowed me to turn a picture into raised dots. If you do not have access to the program or an embosser (braille printer), then you could use white Wikki Stix or hot glue to make an outline. I pre-cut the hat, nose, and scarf from textured peel and stick papers.

We read a "touchy feely" Usborne book called That's Not My Snowman. The students explored the different textures in the book before making their own snowman.

The students made their color selections, and stuck the items to the paper. The students had to pinch and pull the cotton balls and glue onto the snowman. The students used markers to draw a mouth and color the bumpy eyes. The activity was great for exploring some of the attributes that are tested on the Virginia Alternative Assessment (VAAP).