I am pleased to present Mrs. Tatiana Palma and Ms. Maggie’s Visually Impaired class. Their class is comprised of 9 children with visual impairments, most of whom are totally blind. Therefore, their lessons usually become very hands-on in order to share concepts, build language and enhance overall learning. Several of the children already have a strong base in Braille literacy, so activities that incorporate writing skills reflect this adaptation. Developing tactual abilities is also very important to this group, since using their hands and improving fine motor skills will eventually lead to strengths in Braille. The key to fun-filled learning activities for this group involves multi-sensory learning using a variety of special techniques. Every day brings new and exciting challenges for all of them!
This is one of our most beloved books. The children in my class enjoyed re-enacting this story, with each one sharing a special role. We even added some animal characters so everyone had a part! They repetition made it easy for everyone to participate. In fact, our class was fortunate to present this story as a short play through collaboration with a resident artist provided for by VSA/Arts FL. We became instant stars at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. They still talk about it to this day, “Wishy-Washy, Wishy-Washy…” At the end of the year when we had special books bound as keepsakes for our room, all of the children requested Mrs. Wishy-Washy. Indeed, she will always hold a special place in our hearts!
Swimmy (by Leo Lionni)
This lesson was undertaken to teach students about fish and how fish swim. The concept of a “school” of fish was not readily understood, since my students are blind/visually impaired, therefore, we made small red fish and mounted them on a backdrop of a larger fish to simulate the illustrations in the book (i.e., a school of fish). Swimmy is a black fish and positioned as the eye. Also, the bag of small fish as a tangible activity further enhanced concepts and was an enjoyable hands-on part of our lesson. We also worked on a book review in braille to retell the story and better understand the plot. This story also spoke about the value of collaboration and cooperation to get the job done, something we all need to learn. All in all, this activity was a great learning experience and the children loved the book!
Columbus Day Activity
As part of our Language Arts/Social Studies activities during the month of October, we conducted a read-aloud story of Christopher Columbus using a short chapter book. Since we learned that Columbus brought back a variety of spices to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, I had each of the students bring 2 favorite spices from home. This simple sensory activity was a special treat for our student with visual impairments since it involved their olfactory sense. We shared cultural tidbits as students talked about favorite family recipes and how mom cooked using these special spices. A simple survey revealed everyone had a favorite. Turns out in my class, it is cinnamon!