Electronic alphabet toys have been around for decades for students with vision. LeapFrog Fridge Phonics is a sing along magnetic letter set that introduces children to letter names and each letter’s phonetic sound. The game has had a variety of shapes over the years; currently Fridge Phonics is the shape of a bus with the additional Wheels on the Bus song along with the traditional alphabet song and individual letter songs. BrailleBlox is a braille version of the popular LeapFrog Fridge Phonics game!
The image below is the LeapFrog Fridge Phonics game.
Each of the LeapFrog blocks has a colorful raised shape of the individual letter on the block.
Years ago, I added sticky-backed braille letters to each of the Fridge Phonics blocks, in an attempt for my young students to be exposed to braille letters. The braille letters had to be strategically placed in order to fit on top of the raised print letters. The braille letter typically did not fit on the raised portion, so I placed the braille on the white base part of the block. However, students were not able to anticipate where to find the braille and with some pieces, the braille was in awkward placements for little fingers to read. I did have some issues with the braille letters falling off. Typically, my students enjoyed interacting with the game pieces and quickly figured out how to align the pieces into the window (great “puzzle- type” activity); however, my students typically ignored the sticky-backed braille. These students did quickly learn about letter name and their corresponding phonetics through this fun game!
This magnetic game is designed to be placed on the refrigerator. In the classroom, I often used a cookie sheet (with a lip around the edge) to keep the individual letters from falling off the student’s desk.
BrailleBlox is a set of 26 braille alphabet blocks that is used with a LeapFrog Fridge Phonics game. BrailleBlox pieces is used in conjunction with the LeapFrog Fridge Phonics base – BrailleBlox is NOT a stand-alone game. UPDATE: The recent LeapFrog Fridge Phonic games are compatible; the original game is not compatible. Here is the list of compatible Fridge Phonic games.
The LeapFrog Fridge Phonics game currently costs $20. (Be sure to shop around – I have seen some stores selling the exact same game for $40!) BrailleBlox is currently $65.
Note: Creating 26 individual electronic pieces for a small population of users is expensive – this is the actual cost to produce limited quantities of these braille pieces.
The BrailleBot team has a passion for assisting future braille readers and has created several programs to help offset the cost of quality braille resources.
The BrailleBot team has a program for providing refurbished LeapFrog Fridge Phonics games – while supplies last. When you purchase a set of BrailleBlox, if you do not already have Fridge Phonics and cost is an issue for you, you can request a free refurbished Fridge Phonics game. Fridge Phonic donations are gladly accepted – please spread the word! Learn more about donating LeapFrog Fridge Phonics games here.
The BrailleBot team has also implemented a BrailleBuddy Program. The BrailleBuddy program matches a future braille student in need with a generous sponsor. If you are a parent of a child looking to be sponsored or a sponsor who would like to donate BrailleBlox, learn more about the BrailleBuddy program here.
BrailleBlox are the set of braille blocks that require the LeapFrog Fridge Phonics game. BrailleBot is the stand-alone braille version of the game. BrailleBot uses the same set of braille blocks; however, the base has the braille alphabet and the songs associated with each block includes the dot combinations that make up the braille letter! The BrailleBot prototype is fully functioning and ready; however, funding is needed to help cover the production costs in order to bring the cost down to a reasonable amount.
The image below is of BrailleBot game.
The video below demonstrates an emerging braille reader being introduced to the first BrailleBot prototype. This video provides a glimpse of the braille specific songs (includes the braille dot combination). This prototype was a ‘proof of concept’ prototype created from basic materials. See the image above for the current – ready-for-market version of BrailleBot.
By Diane Brauner