Pre-Braille Implementation in Early Education by Jaime Hilditch

Pre Braille Activity

Jaime Hilditch

Activity Walk-Through

Below are three audio recordings, each following a different activity. All three activities will bring awareness to the senses and incidental learning opportunities. The discussion that follows (under ‘Considerations’ and ‘Feedback’) and community engagement (Google Doc) will hopefully lead to more inclusive conversations going forward.

Please choose the activity that best fits your living situation and the materials available to you during the pandemic. Transcripts are available directly after each recording.

Option 1.  A Mindful Snack

Cooking is something we all do, approximately three times a day. Often a dish will remind us of a specific place, time and/or person. Cooking allows us to use all five senses, smell, touch, taste, hearing and sight. The next time you begin preparing a meal or snack, follow the guided activity below.


A Mindful Snack Transcript

Gather your ingredients, listening to the rustling in the cupboards or the fan in the fridge.

Prepare the ingredients. Pay attention to both hands as you chop or wash the food.

If the ingredient came in a wrapper, notice how you grasp the packaging and use all fingers to open the contents.

Be mindful of the sensations when mixing or preparing the ingredients together. Do the ingredients have distinct textures, temperatures or weights?

While it is cooking, try to pick up any distinct aromas while taking deep breathes.

As you cook, describe aloud to a family member, or yourself if alone, what you are doing; your actions.

Reflect on the types of descriptors you just used. Did you express the ingredient colours? Or maybe the shapes of the foods?

Try closing your eyes, describe the textures and the emotions you feel creating this dish. Maybe memories or people come to mind…

Let the descriptors used to explain the tactility and emotions of this activity be the start of a new vocabulary.
Think about using these words in addition to sight descriptors the next time you explain something.

Option 2.  Noticing Art

How many times throughout the day do you reach for a pencil or pen to jot something down? In this activity, we’re going to take a moment to notice what our senses are doing while mark making.

Noticing Art Transcript

Gather a few art supplies or writing utensils you have at home, and a sheet of paper.

Pick up one of the utensils. Notice your fingertips as you roll the utensil between your thumb and index finger, and then between all fingers.

Hold the utensil to the paper and begin mark making. You do not need to draw anything in particular. Just move the utensil around the page noticing how it feels connecting with the paper.

As you draw, describe aloud to a family member, or yourself if alone, what you are doing; your actions.

As you switch to a different utensil, reflect on the types of descriptors you just used. Did you describe the colour, shade, or depth?
Those who are visually able will tend to jump toward using descriptors involving sight, which is normal.

Grasping the second utensil, try closing your eyes and begin drawing again.

Describe aloud the textures you feel, the experience using the tool, and how it sounds on the paper.

Rest the utensil next to the page. Did you notice a difference in the words you used to describe your actions when your eyes were open and then when they were closed?

Let the descriptors used to explain the tactility and emotion of this activity be the start of a new vocabulary.
Think about using these words in addition to sight descriptors the next time you explain something.

Option 3.  A Walk in Nature

We are often lacking time spent outside due to work, and currently the pandemic. If it is safe for you to go outside (it could be your backyard or down the street) place one headphone in your ear and take a walk with me as we use our senses to appreciate the outdoors.

A Walk in Nature Transcript

As you open your door and take your first few steps outside, notice the smells and noises surrounding you. Maybe the air seems fresh, maybe you hear birds chirping in the near distance…or if you’re in Toronto like me, the sound of construction and people talking.

Continue walking. When you come upon a patch of grass, bend down and place your hand on the ground. What does the grass feel like between your fingers? Is it spiky and dry? Is it soft? Possibly damp from the morning dew.

Find a nearby tree. Upon reaching the tree, graze your hand over the bark. Use your whole hand (from palm to fingertips). Does the bark feel different moving your hand across the tree horizontally versus up toward the leaves?

If the leaves are within reach, gently grasp one without pulling it off the tree. Feel the veins and marks between your fingers as you trace over the leaf.

If you spot a flower, stand next to it noticing any aromas or buzzing of insects.

As you stand in nature, describe aloud to a family member, or yourself if alone, what you are doing and what you’re experiencing.

Reflect on the types of descriptors you just used. Did you express the colours of the flowers and plants or their height?

I invite you to feel the grass, stand next to a flower, or place your hand on a tree once again. With your eyes closed, describe aloud any textures and emotions you may feel.

Has closing your eyes changed your experience or heightened some of your other senses?

Let the descriptors used to explain the tactility and emotions of this activity to be the start of a new vocabulary.
Think about using these words in addition to sight descriptors the next time you explain something.

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Pre Braille Activity by Jaime Hilditch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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