Back to School Activity: Accessible Find My Friend

As an O&M, I frequently start the school year with a quick talk to my kindergarten/early elementary student's class. Typically, I share about O&M and VI-related things and provide an opportunity for classmates to ask questions. While the classmates are eager to learn about the cane, braille writer, etc. their questions tend to be very basic: "Can a blind kid ride the bus?" or "Does a blind kid like pizza?" Kids just want to know if the classmate who is visually impaired does the same things that they do - focusing on similarities not differences. Period. So let's capitalize on finding similarities between students!

The "Find a Friend" game is a fun activity designed to help all students make new friends with their new classmates. This activity is a fun ice breaker that encourages social skills and helps classmates find common interests. It's also a fun way to expose peers to braille - and that while it may look different than print, both are ways to read the same words.

Preparation

  • Create Find a Friend Worksheet template and make enough copies for student in the class. Create one tactile version for the student who is a braille reader.
  • Create a list of topics, such as sports, foods, board games, recess activities, desserts, animals and activities or choose your own topics. Have multiple options for each category.
  • Using sticky-back braille sheets, provide each student with a print/braille copy of his/her name. (You can substitute sticky-back braille sheets with regular embosser/capsule paper and double stick tape.)
  • Create 7 sticky back print/braille name labels for the student who is a braille reader.
  • Cut apart the topic choices and separate into piles. Ideally, place in containers or dividers. One copy should be available in braille for the braille reader to choose from. On a table, form 6 columns (one column for each topic) with the four corresponding answer choices in the column. The order of the columns should match the order of the categories on the template.

Note: You can make the entire activity with print/braille labels for every student. If so, provide print/braille category choices and provide each student with 7 print/braille copies of his/her name, so that every worksheet is has both print and braille!

Resources

TVI Hint: If you have immediate access to an embosser or tactile graphics machine, you can do this activity on the fly! For tactile graphics machine:

  • Use the attached Find My Friend PIAF template and add sim braille for your student's choices. Print the document on capsule paper and run it through the tactile graphics machine
  • Here is the Find My Friend Activities for a tactile graphics machine (6 categories with 4 choices for each option in print then braille).
    • Note: Print the document on capsule paper. Cover the print with masking tape (leave the sim braille exposed) so that the print is not raised when run through a tactile graphics machine.

The photo below shows the Find My Friend template with chosen activities. The photo is of the print version with sim braille (not the tactile version) as the tactile braille and tactile lines do not show up well in a photo. The student's name is on a separate piece of paper with print and sim braille, adhered with double sided tape and placed in the "name" box. (You will use print and braille, not sim braille names.) When Diane finds a student with a matching choice, she will adhere the student's print/braille name in the box of the corresponding choice match.

photo of Find My Friend with choices in print and sim braille ready for the tactile graphics machine.

Activity

Distribute the Find a Friend page. Discuss the categories and that there are four options for each category. Have the students line up and move across the table, choosing one answer choice from each column (category). The student adds his/her choice to the Find a Friend Template.

If each student is given 7 braille name labels, he/she can place one name label at the top of the template, to identify that this is his/her page. If not, the student can write his name at the top of the page. The student then adds his print/braille answer choices to the template.

Once each individual Find a Friend page is complete, ask the students to find fellow classmates who have chosen a same answer choice. This provides a natural discussion starting place as students meet one another - helping them find what they have in common and sparking friendly interaction. When two students find a matching answer, they can place their classmate's  braille name label in the corresponding square on the Find a Friend page. Below the student's braille tag, the owner of the Find a Friend page will write the student's name below the braille label using a pencil. (The braille student can braille the student's name on a separate piece of paper.)

Modification: If your braille student is not yet writing words, have him/her braille the first word in the student's name.

Note: One way to maintain some order during this activity is to divide the room by tables and pairing two tables together; students in one table remain sitting while students from the second table move around the first table, seeking a friend who has the same answer choice. After a period of time, pair different tables, repeating until everyone has filled their Find a Friend page.

Rules

  • Students can list each classmate only once on the worksheet.
  • Students should spell their classmates names correctly. When they find a friend to add to their sheet, they should ask the friend how to spell their first name.
  • Ask the students to show their best handwriting!