"Yikes - it is almost winter break and what simple gift can I give to my students with visual impairments?!" This question keeps popping up and as teachers of the visually impaired, we often have large caseloads and limited resources. Recently on a Facebook for TVIs and COMS, this question was asked and multiple people responded. Here are some of the most popular responses with expanded educational twists! Note: These activities include ECC components!
Build a Snowman Kit
These are cute edible snowman kits that you build with your student or send home for the student to build later. You can create your own kit using simple materials or kits can be purchased. Here is link to a free printable label. This particular kit suggests using the following materials; however you can be creative here and substitute and/or add materials.
- Snack size plastic baggy (or cello bag)
- Label (download or create your own); be sure to add braille if appropriate!
- 3 large marshmallows (head, chest and body)
- 2 mini marshmallows (for feet if you creating Olaf from the movie Frozen)
- 2 pretzel sticks (arms; may break in half to be proportional)
- 3 chocolate chips (buttons)
- 1 orange Tic Tac candy (nose)
- 2 colorful sprinkles or tiny candies (eyes)
Note: If you want to duplicate a "real" snowman, include a piece of licorice for a scarf and something for a hat.
Place the snowman parts in the baggy and close. Fold the label over the top of the bag and staple in place. If creating Olaf, the middle marshmallow (body) should be smaller than the others, so squish the marshmallow. This can also be a wonderful opportunity to talk about body parts, compare the similarities/differences of a real snowman, Olaf, and child. If desired, you can turn this discussion into a written assignment!
Include a print/braille snowman poem (download Snowman Poem here), a book about a snowman and/or link to one of the many snowman-themed books read aloud on YouTube. (See Snowman QR Books below to send home QR Code links to YouTube video books.)
Build a Christmas Tree
This adorable kit uses playdough to create a Christmas tree that students then decorate. You can create your own kit with homemade playdough (cheaper) or with store bought playdough. Print this free Playdough Christmas Tree label or create your own. Use this activity to talk about 3-dimensional shapes - ball, sphere, cube, cone, etc. If desired, use wooden/plastic manipulatives to demonstrate the various shapes, then recreate the shape using the playdough. Work on fine motor skills to roll out the playdough and to create these shapes. For some students, it might be helpful to make the base of the cone to fit on a tactile circle and then evenly shape the playdough up to a point. Here is a list of suggested items to place in the bag. If desired, reserve some playdough to make a present (cube) to sit beside the tree.
- Snack-size plastic baggy (or cello bag)
- Label (create your own or print free label' add braille if appropriate)
- Green Playdough (small size can or make your own)
- Decorations (stars, sequins, beads, jewels, etc.)
Place the items in the bag. Fold the label over the top of the bag and staple in place. Include a print/braille Christmas tree-themed poem (download the Christmas Tree poem here), book and/or link to one of the many snowman-themed books read aloud on YouTube.
Create an ePub book about the student. The book can be about the student's favorite things, classroom/school activities that the student participated in, or a Christmas-themed book that the student stars in. Include pictures of the student and if desired, record the student (auditory clips or video clips). Read the Book Creator post for details about how to create your own ePub book using Book Creator app.
Share already created teacher-made Pub books such as Noelle's Christmas Tree - the naughty cat who gets into trouble with all the sparkly Christmas decorations. These books are available in the iBook section of Paths to Technology (and can be shared as an ePub book or PDF).
Snowman QR Code Books and PDFs
This post has free downloaded QR codes that link to Snowman-themed video stories. Note: These stories can also be downloaded as a PDF for a digital copy or can be embossed for a braille copy. Want to encourage your students to access stories over the holidays? Print these QR codes, laminate them and send them home for students to access with their parents or on their own at home. Students can quickly open the YouTube video stories using the camera on a smart phone or tablet. Learn more about QR codes and video books here.
Braille Code Cookies
Many of these gift ideas can be incorporated into a fun activity right before the holiday break - including decorating sugar cookies with "braille". These are great ECC activities as well as tons of fun! See the Braille Code Cookies post here.
Foam Sticker Ornament Kits
Go to your favorite retail store or Amazon and purchase packages of sticker foam ornaments. There are so many choices from very simple ball ornaments to more complex characters! Here are two of my favorite foam sticker kits available on Amazon: Gingerbread Man and Penguin. Add braille label on the back of each ornament with the student's name and year. If desired, add a From: (your name). TVI, Gaylene, shared that, "I have students that love this activity and ask me in August if we'll be doing it again!"
Each of the Gingerbread Men in this kit comes with a card with the printed Gingerbread Man Legend. For braille readers, reproduce the Gingerbread Man legend in braille.
The Penguin Foam Kit offers choices: different scarves, hats and items (present or candy cane) that the penguin can hold.
Please share your favorite gift ideas in the comment section below!