Braille Teaching Strategies from Our Facebook Friends
What are your best ideas for teaching braille in the classroom? Our Facebook friends have posted some excellent ones, and we’ve put them all together, captured completely in their words, in this note for your future reference. Everyone should have fun on the braille trail—enjoy!
MaryKate Harris: I had a middle school dual media student last year. As a practice for learning initial letter contractions, I brailled all of the initial letter contractions on pink index cards. Then on another color index cards, I would braille 10 or so fun words that either the student or I came up with. She would draw two pink contraction cards and one “fun” card and have to read the words and braille in a sentence using them. For example, if the contractions were “many” and “world” and the fun word was “cheese,” she might write “The world is made of many kinds of cheese.”
Tabatha Mitchell: We plan to make each sighted kid in second grade a copy of their name and the alphabet in braille to encourage interest and understanding by the rest of the class.
Rebecca Sheffield: As a group activity in Sierra Leone, we divided participants into six sections, arranged like the dots of a braille cell…then we called out letters of the alphabet and had the people in each section stand up if their “dot” was represented in that character (stay seated otherwise). It worked like a gigantic braille cell and was effective for helping participants who were blind as well as those who were sighted. You could do this with as few as six students, and, like “duck, duck, goose,” students could touch the heads of fellow students to check for accuracy…lots of fun (and exercise) as well as helping with spatial thinking.
Erica Eswine: While working as an instructional assistant, I’ve found that kids are always very enthusiastic to teach/explain braille to non-braille readers, especially adults.
Carrie Anne Brooke Lovell: When introducing braille dots, the children really enjoy exploring the “cell” using egg boxes with ping pong balls. It also helps with reversals.
Hillary Welch Kleck: We make fun textured lines for tracking lines out of scrapbook paper. Sometimes I put a smelly sticker in for an extra surprise! This was fun and really helped my daughter, Madilyn, with tracking across and down the page!
Cath Tendler-Valencia: I save egg cartons; one egg carton equals two braille cells. I buy colorful Easter eggs that are sold in the spring. I have students read letters/words/contractions that I make, and they get to make their own and quiz me. The eggs are large for little hands to hold, and they are fun, especially when I tuck surprises inside them. I let them take the plastic eggs and cartons home so that they can play with their families to reinforce what they’ve learned during the day and to teach family members, so braille becomes a household code.
Incorporating technology is a great way to increase motivation and individualize learning to meet specific student needs. It also models to the student how braille and technology can work together, particularly for teachers who are searching for ways to diversify their teaching methods; including technology can keep students interested during braille instruction. You can create and emboss documents that are in either uncontracted or contracted braille, which is a huge advantage because it can be difficult finding books that are at the student’s age-level but also their current level of braille knowledge. Technology may also provide that audio feedback to reinforce what is being taught.
Braille Jeopardy: It can be difficult, especially for young students, to remain focused during lessons. Incorporating games such as these can be a great way to diversify teaching and make braille “fun”—because we all know that braille is fun! Create a game with questions much like Jeopardy where students must respond with the correct braille symbol or contraction for points.
Braille Bingo! Create braille bingo cards with clearly defined tactile lines for the grid (to separate individual letters on the card). Find some bingo chips or other easily usable substitutes and play bingo with a group of braille students. Call out a symbol or contraction, and students will not only practice their braille code but also practice tracking and searching for specific characters on the bingo card. I met a teacher not too long ago who came up with this idea for her class and created her own bingo cards. I thought it was a fantastic and fun idea.
Gillian Gray Pilcher: I think games are one of the best ways to practice braille. An adapted scrabble game or boggle is a good way for learning. Put the braille sign on each side of the letter cube. Remember to put a tiny dot or scratch so that the student knows which way the cube should face. You could make your own adapted boggle by sticking the letters on tiles and using Velcro, which would work on the all-in-one board. Just place the letters in rows and columns.
For more fun ideas for teaching braille, check out the AFB Press book Guidelines and Games for Teaching Efficient Braille Reading by Myrna Olson and Sally Mangold available for purchase on the AFB Bookstore.