Wednesday 1 February 2012

Creating resources for a VI child in nursery

In these days of stringent cuts and insistent calls to economise we can all be thrown onto our own resources and inborn creativity. This is particularly true when working with young  visually impaired children in the nursery setting. In such a context and in view of the impact of vision loss on a child's cognitive development  in particular  routes must be found through the other senses to make up for the paucity of visual information.  it is a well known fact that 80% of all learning is though the visual system.  In view of this it is vital for educationalists to think very carefully about the appropriateness of their resources and to develop if possible their own visuo-tactile aids.  I have seen wonderful examples from visual impairment teacher colleagues who had a special flair for adapting lessons for the little ones. 

Today I want to share with you some more wonderful things that I have just had the pleasure of observing in one of the nurseries I visit. Zoe is working as a learning support assistant with a young boy and she has already written an article  about  her experiences, which I thoroughly commend to readers.  I have asked her to follow this up with some concrete examples of how she has adapted topics for her pupil. It will obvious  that she is blessed with some very practical gifts and these are matched by her creative flair. But I will let her describe what she has done herself. Click the picture to enlarge the image and see all the details - Enjoy.

Supporting Mark
In the nursery I work in we always have a 'story of the week'. Every day as a group we will read different versions of this story and all activities are based on the themes of the book. 'Mark' (the visually impaired boy I work with) regularly misses out during story time on the carpet as there are 43 children all crowded round one book and he cannot see the pictures. Of course he can listen but being so young he gets easily distracted with no pictures to keep his attention. To remedy this I make props related to the story of the week which we do activities with in both a small focus group (up to 5 other children) and one-to-one. 
These are my prince and princess dolls I made when the story of the week was Cinderella. Mark loves role play so I try to work that in as much as possible into everything we do. We re-told the story using these dolls and discussed alternative endings etc. The hair for the prince doll is detachable so I could change it to turn him into a different character.
I found the Cinderella story sequence online, printed the sequence off in A4 and stuck them onto hard black card. I then added block colours of felt to built up layers of texture and create depth. Mark enjoyed feeling these to explore the scenes. I would muddle the sequence up and get him and the rest of the group to rearrange it which was a great exercise for them.
When the story of the week was the Gingerbread Man I made a felt Gingerbread Man doll. I then printed and coloured the pages of an online version of the story and turned it into a book.
I added velcro to the doll and to the pages to make it interactive. I would read the story while Mark played the Gingerbread Man and moved from page to page.

For the Three Billy Goats Gruff I made a storyboard which I would ask Mark to use to tell the story. 
 I used card and felt and chopsticks for the bridge. I then used felt and fluffy fabrics to create the goats ...
and the troll. 
This week's story is Jack and the Beanstalk. For this I have made some new blonde hair out of felt to turn the prince doll into Jack. I have also made a felt giant and goose. 
The goose is hollow and its stomach is not sewn up. This is so that the golden egg I made can live inside its stomach until Mark decides its time for him to lay an egg. I filled an old jewellery bag of mine with beads to make the bag of magic beans. These have been great for telling the story, with each child in my small group playing a different character (Jack, giant, mum, man with beans, goose). 
Next week's story is the Three Little Pigs. For this I have attempted to make a set to tell the story with puppets. The house of straw was done with yellow shredded paper, the house of sticks was make with painted chopsticks and the house of bricks was painted and covered with foam rectangles. I have completed the pig puppets but I'm afraid the wolf is not yet photo-ready!
I bought some foam numbers which I stuck onto black card. I chose black so there would be no glare and so that there would be good contrast between the base and the numbers.I chose foam numbers simply because they are fun for children to feel. I glued buttons corresponding to the numbers on the other side. Mark recognises numbers through to 10 so I get him first to count the buttons then to check that he's right by turning the card over. Normally I give him two cards, get him to count the buttons on each card separately first and then altogether. This way he is being exposed to simple addition.
These are just simple alphabet cards. I stuck foam letters to card for him to feel and drew pictures that start with each letter on the other side. We pull a few cards out of a bag each day at random to practice letters and sounds.
This book is where I have placed A4 size portrait photos of all the children in my group including myself and recorded their voices saying "Hi, my name is ......". Mark studies this in our one-to-one time to help him learn to recognise his friends when they are around him. We would practice by studying the pictures and  pressing the buttons with recorded voices. We would play a game where we had to match the voice to the face. It only took around a week before he had progressed and he now knows all of these children by both their voices and faces.
I bought this bag of textured squares online when I first started working with Mark. The whole group loves it and its a great lesson in turn taking as I go round the circle for them to all have a go. However, I see now that I could very easily have created this myself with the wonderful resources that are available to me at nursery. The object of the game is to close your eyes and use your hands to feel around for two matching squares. This is something Mark really needed to practice since he is very tactile defensive and we need to increase sensitivity in his fingertips.
One of the resources Maurice brought into the nursery is a puzzle, which involves putting pieces into their correct places according to their different textures. I turn the pieces upside down and Mark feels the bottom and then decides where each piece should go. Mark manages very well to sort out the different pieces according to texture.

Thank you so much Zoe for all your hard work.

Other resources that readers can purchase can be found in the following sites:
Early years Resources
Tactile games
Games for young VI
Tactile animals

I am always interested in sharing good practice. If readers have similar things they would like to share please contact me. Thanks.

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