Early elementary: Tactile pictures and drawing, engaging students in literacy activities

Looking for ways to enrich your early elementary student's literacy? Tactile Graphic Rich Environments series, part 2.

Kindergarten Logan in a literacy small group reading his illustrated braille book.

This is a series on providing tactile graphic rich environments for preschool and elementary students. This second section is on early Elementary tactile pictures, drawing and engaging the student in literacy activities.

Reading Literacy

Books with tactile pictures build concepts and provide rich literacy experiences. Logan’s first grade classroom teacher begins small group reading lessons with a ‘Picture Walk’ where all the students look at and review the pictures to build background knowledge before reading the story. Books with simple tactile drawing helps the student to be included in the literacy program. Small reading groups activities are a rich social environment for students! 

Kindergarten Logan sitting with a literacy small group reading an emerging reader with his peers and classroom teacher.

The tactile drawings are simple, age-appropriate drawings that focus on the object’s salient features. Logan’s TSVI or para preview the drawings with Logan before the book is used in the classroom. Just like his peers, Logan gleans clues from the pictures that help him decode the words.

An illustrated page with braille/print words and a simple tactile drawings: a man's head wearing a hat, a cat's head with pointed ears and whiskers, and a dog's head with floppy ears.

Writing Literacy

In the classroom, during early writing instruction, students are often asked to draw pictures and then write a story. They will learn to write freely but then edit and produce a final copy. 

Logan is learning to draw but these early writing assignments can be illustrated by the TSVI and para. Looking at the tactile drawing together allows him to learn the details of the image and then he can show and describe it to others. Students are excited to read books that they wrote; reading braille is hard and this makes it fun and meaningful!

These drawings support Logan’s writing. Early writing often centers around a student’s experiences, such as the fishing trip that Logan took with his dad. The raised line drawings help him read these emerging reader books and help him write his own stories.

The fishing trip book by kindergarten Logan with misspelled braille words: "we cot the bigest fish evr!" and illustration of a stick-figure boy catching a huge fish.

In the video of 5th grade Logan looking at the books he read in kindergarten and first grade, Logan remembers the pictures and stories with pure joy! 

Video transcript

Key points

Early Elementary Strategies to support fluency with tactile pictures and drawing


Other posts in this series: 

Additional Resource

Ideas and videos are by Jessica McDowell; post co-written by Diane Brauner

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