Ish book cover with an illustration of a child running with a paintbrush and text: Peter H Reynolds

“Ish” book: Drawing, estimating, and digital table activities

Exciting activities that inspire "ish" (being close but not exact).

Drawing is what Ramon does. It’s what makes him happy. But in one split second, all that changes. A single reckless remark by Ramon’s older brother, Leon, turns Ramon’s carefree sketches into joyless struggles. Luckily for Ramon, though, his little sister, Marisol, sees the world differently. She simply declares that his picture, “Well, it looks vase-ISH”, opening Ramon’s eyes to something a lot more valuable than getting things just “right.”

Ish, a book by Peter H. Reynolds, has a wonderful message!

Ish by Peter H. Reynolds available through Bookshare (Audio described!)

Ish read aloud on YouTube video:

Ishful drawing

Ramon learns that his drawings do not have to look a certain way, and that “ish” can be inspiring and fun! I love how Ramon discovers the joy of drawing – with his own style! Let’s apply the same thought process to drawing for students who are blind or low vision. Not only for fun, learning to draw is an important skill for all kids. Students who are blind can and should regularly draw using tools that create raised lines. A favorite DIY tactile drawing tool is covering a clipboard with a screen (for a window). Place a sheet of paper on top of the screen and the student uses a crayon to create a tactile drawing. (Be sure to cover the edges of the screen with duct tape to eliminate any sharp points!) There are also tactile drawing tools for purchase, such as the Sensational Blackboard and APH’s Draftsman.

What ishful drawings does your student create?


Ishful math


Ramon’s sister uses “ish” to describe things that are close, but not exact. This is a great time to introduce “ishful math” or estimating – to guess how many items are in a mason jar. Fill each of the small mason jars with familiar things from your home or classroom. Use small items like Lego bricks, counting bears, crayons, popsicle sticks, polished stones, beads, puff balls, etc. Note: The jars do not have to be full! Place a lid on each jar and tell students that they cannot remove and count the items. Tell the blind student what is in the jar, let him/her feel one item, and invite him/her to quickly put a finger in the jar and ‘stir’, to make an educated estimate of how many items – but no counting!

Photo of 3 mason jars filled with counting blocks, crayons, and colorful rectangles.

Estimating Game 1: Discuss that the ish numbers are “close to 5” or “close to 10” but are not the exact number. The real number might be a little more or a little less. For the first version of the game, use 3-5 jars filled with different objects. (Try to vary the number of items in each jar.)  Provide written labels (tags, sticky notes, etc.) with guesses that are close to the real number. (Example: The beads jar might be “100ish”, while the crayon jar might be “5ish”. Ask your student to match the ish tag to the jar containing similar number of items.

Estimating Game 2: Using different jars filled with objects, the student should write (or braille) his/her estimate number, with “ish” afterwards. (Example: 5ish)

If this is a class activity, braille each estimate in a column on a page with the print number, then place the mason jar at the top of the page. This enables all the students in the class to know what the estimates were for that jar.

Note: You can write/braille the estimates on little tags, use post it notes, braille labels, etc.

photo of a tag on a string with "10 ish" in print

After the student (or class) has provided his/her estimates, open the jar and count the items. If desired, you can include that actual number on the tag or paper associated with the mason jar.

Ish table (Tech skills)

Create a table with the column headers naming the items in the jars and the row headers labeled: “Estimate: and “Actual Number”. 

A sample Ish Table is provided; however, your table should have column headers that correspond with the items in your jars. 

Ish Table example with Legos, Rocks, Beads, Counting Blocks, Crayons columns and Estimate, Actual Number Rows.

Download sample Ish table (docx) here.

For young students, create a braille table and a digital table; the tactile table can be an overlay for a tablet to help the student transition from tactile to digital! Depending on the student, the overlay can be just the grid lines of the table, making the student build listening/tech skills!

For young students, using a tablet with a screen reader only requires that the student know how to drag a finger (in a straight line) around the table and good listening skills. Students who are using a laptop will need to know how to navigate within a table using keyboard commands.

Ideally, the student should enter the correct number in each block of the table. If the student does not yet have the skills, the student can tell you the number and you can enter it in. The goal here is to expose the student to digital tables. 

Once the numbers are in the table, have the student explore the table. Then, ask the student questions (the student can refer back to the table) such as:


Align with assistive technology scope and sequence skills

Introduced in Kindergarten:

Introduced in First Grade:

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App accessibility checklist for low vision

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Computer code on a screen

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