Kate Fraser describes how students with low vision or no vision can participate in constructing a "spine" using a variety of materials (e.g., uncooked pasta, string, pipe cleaners, gummy savers, foam disks, paper plates, etc.). In this video Kate demonstrates the function of each of the components of the spine and the purpose of the discs that are found between each vertebrae.
Hello, I'm Kate Fraser. I'm a teacher at Perkins School for the Blind.
Today we're going to talk about a lesson used to teach about the structure and function of the human body, particularly the backbone.
The materials here include a shoelace to represent the spinal cord, or for a shorter lesson and with younger child, a chenille stem, or pipe cleaner, as they're called, because it's stiffer and easier to thread.
Some macaroni, either this particular kind, short ziti, or wagon wheel, which more closely replicates the nature of a vertebra.
The discs, the cartilage between the backbones, are represented either by foam circles like this, or, which is very fun for the student, a series of gummi savers.
They smell good and the students have to be encouraged not to eat them.
So in setting up the tray for the activity, we have the gummi savers in one corner, the macaroni in another corner, the shoelace, and the paper plate, which is optional, but for some students, especially younger students, this is fun and it represents the head. This can be decorated as a face, some students enjoy that, with stickers.
For some students, again depending on their age, we can thread on the macaroni.
I would instruct them just to put on a few.
And then hold it up to their ear and wiggle it the way you'd move your backbone, and you can hear the macaroni grinding against one another.
Removing the macaroni, again, doing that either on the pipe cleaner or the shoelace.
Then the student would tie the spinal cord, or attach the spinal cord, to the brain in the head, and for some students this might be a little tricky.
Then begin to thread, alternating a vertebra with a gummi, with another vertebra, with another gummi.
And you'd continue to work until you have the correct number of vertebrae for the human backbone, or a shorter backbone if desired for a younger child.
Then, as part of the activity, I would have the child, again, bring this up to their ear and listen, and they can hear that the grinding noise is much softer because, in fact, the vertebrae are cushioned by these cartilage discs that are now here.
This is an example of a couple of finished products.
This one made with the discs, which again, do not grind because of the foam disc.
And this one is a finished product with the gummi savers.
And very often for some children, what they really enjoy doing is taking this and knowing that this is their head and then putting it behind them, and seeing the relationship between the backbone they constructed and the backbone that they have in their own bodies.