Collage of theme-based activities

Cindy’s Corner: Theme-Based Activities

Teaching using a theme-based approach can be an effective strategy for students with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities or deafblindness.

These activities are designed to teach many different concepts and skills to children of all ages through a single activity. A cross-curriculuar approach can be used to integrate skills from all areas, including language and communication, concept development, math, science, reading, writing, hand skills, social skills and more. They can also be helpful for transition-age students to practice functional skills through cooking and crafts projects. In addition, this type of activity lends itself well to teaching students of different ages and ability levels through a single activity.

Theme-Based Activity Ideas

In theme-based learning, teachers select a theme, such as a holiday or type of animal or a category that is of special interest and relevance to the students. Each theme is then used to incorporate all areas of the curriculum through multiple lessons and activities across a span of time. These activity ideas can be used with students with multiple disabilities or deafblindness, as well as early childhood classes. Many of them lend themselves well to being done at home as well.

Tips for Teachers

The pages listed below are designed for teachers of students with special needs, especially those working with students with visual impairments and multiple disabilities. They include guidelines for addressing communication needs and challenging behavior.

Cindy O’Connell was a teacher in the Lower School at Perkins School for the Blind and she shared these activity ideas over the years. For more of her ideas, see her book Beyond Pegboards: A Guide for Teaching Adolescent Students with Multiple Disabilities.

Cover of Beyond Pegboards
Cover of Beyond Pegboards: A Guide for Teaching Adolescent Students with Multiple Disabilities.

Learn more about theme-based instruction

Smiling woman sitting on a campus bench studying on her laptop.

Reading Chegg eTextbooks with low vision

evaluation checklist form

Instructor evaluations and low vision

White duck

Concept development through tactile graphics: Duck example