Outline image of a snowman with a solid hat and scarf.

Holiday I Spy: Tactile graphics

Classic I Spy worksheets that build tactile graphic skills, concepts, and tech skills!

The holidays are full of wonder and joy – all around us are decorations and symbols of the season. Presents are wrapped and under the tree, stocking are hung, snowman are built, reindeer are leaping and Santa hats are worn. Can students spy these holiday icons that are all around them?

I Spy objectives

I Spy activities are a fun and playful way to build essential skills. For students with vision, hunting for pictures in a busy image allows students to expand their ability to scan and visually discriminate based on an object’s features. Students also build working memory skills by holding onto specific information needed to complete a task. For students who will be/are braille readers, I Spy activities help teach tactile discrimination and tactile graphics skills, as well as memory skills. The I Spy worksheets included with this post are intentionally designed for the images to be in rows and columns, which can help the student learn to systematically scan the page and reinforces the concept of rows and columns.

I Spy tactile discrimination activities

Build tactile discrimination and concepts with these worksheets – worksheets are meant to be created with a tactile graphics machine such as a PIAF or Swell machine. These worksheets include 7 popular holiday-themed images: reindeer, snowman, wrapped present, stocking, snowflake, Santa hat and Christmas tree.

There are many ways to introduce these tactile graphics, but let’s start by using models of the images. Gather small models of these 7 items – you do not need the real item. (Example: Use a 4 inch wooden Christmas tree, not a real pine tree.) Ask your student to explore and identify each item and to describe the distinguishing characteristics of each item. Then, give you student a tactile graphic with only one item. Can they identify the distinguishing characteristics of the tactile image and associate this tactile image with the corresponding model?

Once the student can identify each of the tactile graphic images, then introduce the I Spy worksheets. First choose a worksheet that best meets your student’s skill level. I Spy #5 uses only two, very distinct tactile images, a snowman and a reindeer, while other I Spy worksheets use a variety of images.

Questions to ask

There are many things that can be taught with these worksheets. Think about your student’s current IEP goals and/or what is being taught in the mainstream classroom. Here are some example questions you might ask for I Spy #5.

I spy worksheet #5 with reindeer and snowmen

If the student is working on independently completing a worksheet, you might ask the student to use a crayon and underline or circle all the snowmen.

Be sure to analyze how the student tactually scans the page. If the student use a random scanning technique or does not fully scan the entire page, take a few minutes to review or teach how to systematically scan the page. There are several ways to systematically scan a page. With the need to be able to systematically scan a touch screen (such as the screen on an iPad), I tend to teach scanning using the left-to-right movement in rows.

Tech skill concepts

Systematic scanning, rows, and columns are all associated tech skills which are taught early – these skills lay the foundation for strong tech skills! When using a screen reader, the screen reader should announce the number of rows and columns in a grid. The I Spy worksheet #5 grid would be announced as 4×3 grid – 4 rows by 3 columns. Does your student automatically understand the shape (rectangle that is tall and thin) of this grid? what shape is a 3×3 grid? Did you notice that one I Spy worksheet was in Landscape mode? How does the paper shape change according to landscape or portrait mode? How does this relate to the iPad’s shape? Can you name an app that is landscape and another app that is in portrait? Can all apps be played in both modes?

Holiday I Spy worksheets

Holiday I spy 1 worksheet with snowmen, trees, and reindeer.
Holiday I spy 2 worksheet: landscape with present, snowflake, stocking and Santa hat.
Holiday I spy 3 worksheet: snowflake, snowman, present, stocking and Santa hat
Holiday I Spy 4; 3x3 grid with snowman, Christmas tree, snowflake, present, and reindeer
I spy worksheet #5 with reindeer and snowmen

Create customized worksheets

If you would like to create your own customized worksheets using these same images, download the images. Open a word document (Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Pages, etc.) and copy/paste the images into the document. If needed, decrease the size of the image. Keep in mind, when distinguishing features to identify a variety of images, use smaller, solid or partially solid images. Too many lines/details make smaller images harder to identify.

Some students who are developing tactile skills may need to explore and describe a single large image first before trying to distinguish that image from other images in the worksheets. If so, create a larger image and run it through the tactile graphic machine before using the I Spy worksheets.

Outline image of a snowman with solid hat and scarf.

solid Christmas tree
Solid image of a leaping reindeer.
Outline image of a present (box) with a bow on top.
Solid image of a Christmas stocking
Solid snowflake
Santa hat, solid image

by Diane Brauner

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