Cartoon image of two kids in a row boat rowing.

Writing and editing with a braille display: Proofreading part 5

"Row, row, row your chicken, Gently down the stream" - wait, what is wrong with that nursery rhyme?


To proofread is to look over a piece of writing for errors, looking for spelling mistakes and grammar problems. First and second grade proofreading means checking for any mistakes in spelling, grammar, capitalization and punctuation. Young students are often taught to proofread by reading text out loud to see if it sounds correct when spoken. For students who use a screen reader, many errors can be caught simply by listening carefully. Proofreading also requires students to carefully read the text by reading the printed word or by tactually reading the braille words. Proofreading goes hand-in-hand with writing, as every student will make errors when writing. Write, proofread and edit – it’s a continuous circle!

Editing a nursery rhyme

Let’s start by listening carefully – can you catch the silly words in these rhymes? Using a familiar nursery rhyme or song, substitute key words with other words. This activity will encourage your student to listen to VoiceOver (pre-proofreading skill) and will provide opportunities to practice editing skills.

Listening skills

Start by choosing a favorite nursery rhyme. We will use the following two verses of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Most people are not familiar with the second verse – students love verse two! Ask the student to use the R Chord command (1 + 2 + 3 + 5 + space) to listen to the nursery rhyme.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Row, row, row your boat,

Gently down the stream.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, 

Life is but a dream.

Row, row, row your boat, 

Gently down the stream.

If you see a crocodile,

Don’t forget to scream.

Download the Row Your Boat nursery rhyme here.

Once the student stops giggling, ask the student about the second verse. If necessary, listen to both verses again. What is different between the first and second verse? What are the two rhyming words in the second verse? 

Next, we’ve substituted a few words to make a silly version of the nursery rhyme. (See Row Your Chicken below.) Ask the student to use the R Chord command (1 + 2 + 3 + 5 + space) to listen to the silly nursery rhyme. Have your student listen carefully as VoiceOver reads! 

Row Your Chicken

Row, row, row your chicken, 

Gently down the stream,

Merrily, merrily, madly.

Life is but a pickle.

Row, row, row your boat,

Gently down the book.

If you see a crocodile,

Don’t forget to cook.

What are the silly words in the first verse? If necessary, listen to the rhyme again.

Have the student replace the two silly words with two silly words of his/her choice. This is a great opportunity to practice those navigating and editing skills! Have the student replace the two silly words with two silly words of his/her choice. 

What are the rhyming words in the second verse? Have the student replace the two silly rhyming words with two rhyming silly words of his/her choice. 

Download the Row Your Chicken rhyme here.

Braille reading skills

Want to encourage your student’s braille reading skills? Mute VoiceOver with M chord (1 + 3 + 4 + space). Remember, the smaller braille displays are limited to around 20 braille cells. The panning keys will need to be used to move to the next or previous group of braille cells.

Ask your student to Mute VoiceOver speech and then tactually read the braille version of Down the River out loud. Listen as the child reads the braille rhyme.

Down the River

Row, row, row your boat,

Gently down the river.

If you see a crocodile, 

Don’t forget to shiver.

What two words have been changed?

Is this rhyme nonsense like the Row Your Chicken version? (Down the River rhyme does basically make sense.)

Ask your student to edit the rhyme back to the “real” second verse.

Download the Down the River rhyme here.

Create your own verse for Row Your Boat

Ask your student to create a new standard verse (one that makes sense like Down the River) using his/her own rhyming words. Start by brainstorming a list of words that have a similar meaning for “stream” such as different types of water ways. Example:


Pick a word from the Stream list and think of words that rhyme with your chosen word. If your student is on a roll, encourage writing a second verse that substitutes another word for “boat” and paired rhyming word, and a third verse that substitutes another water animal for “crocodile” and paired rhyming word. 

If your student is older, pick an age-appropriate poem for these activities.

Some of these activities were originally published in the ABC’s of iOS: A VoiceOver Manual for Toddlers and Beyond! by Diane Brauner


By Diane Brauner

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