Who doesn't love the holidays? It's a time for good food and family get-togethers, holiday parties and home-made gift making. For our kids who are blind, seasonal activities and baking often involve an array of multi-sensory input and stimulation. There are so many opportunities to learn about lights, smells and textures.
And of course how can we leave out the best part of the holidays? Toys! Picking out the perfect present for a child who is visually impaired can sometimes be difficult, but there are actually quite a few accessible toys available even in mainstream department stores.
With all this in mind, Perkins offers a diverse collection of holiday tips, tricks and ideas. From our parent support website, WonderBaby.org, our literacy site, Paths to Literacy, and our educator's resource, Perkins eLearning, we have curated below the perfect holiday guide for families and teachers.
#1 - WonderBaby.org Annual Holiday Giveaways
Every year WonderBaby.org collects the best toys, print-braille books, iPad apps and adorable clothes for kids who are blind... and this year may be the best yet. Enter to win any of fifteen contests ranging from hand-made crochet hats to a full Perkins Panda early literacy kit. There's even a contest for a LightAide. All contests end December 17, so sign up for your favorites today.
#2 - Story Box Ideas for Holiday Stories
A story box is a way to bring a book to life with real objects. Instead of just reading about cinnamon and peppermint, what if you could actually pull cinnamon sticks and candy canes out of a box to experience the real things while reading? This article offers creative ideas for story boxes for popular holiday children's books.
#3 - Real Object Advent Calendar
Advent calendars are a great way to introduce literacy and numeracy while also enjoying the fun of counting down the days until Christmas arrives. In this version of the tradition, attach real objects to cards along with numbers in both print and braille. You can also play an identifying game where you ask your child to find a certain item or number on the board.
#4 - Ivan's Christmas Wish List
Choosing gifts for a child who is blind can sometimes be a challenge, but this list is a great way to get you started. From simple chewies (which make great stocking stuffers) to a rocking horse that makes realistic horse sounds, you're sure to find that perfect present.
#5 - Braille Apple Cinnamon Ornaments
This activity is so much fun, mostly because it just smells so good. But the best part is that after you roll out the dough and cut out your ornaments, you've also just created beautiful presents to give to family and friends.
#6 - Mulling Spices
And speaking of things that smell delicious, how about making your own mulling spices? Simply add some cinnamon, cloves, allspice and dried orange peels to a muslin bag and you've got yourself the makings of a wonderful drink... and another great gift to give too.
#7 - Sensory Christmas Activities for Children who are Blind
This article from WonderBaby.org lists ten fun accessible sensory activities that celebrate the holidays. From making Christmas trees out of ice cream cones to freezing water balloons to create your own colorful ice sculptures, these activities are great for kids with visual impairments.
#8 - Holiday Gift Ideas
Still looking for gift ideas? Paths to Literacy has a nice list of braille, craft and toy ideas. Their list offers ideas for children of all ages, even some that would be nice for grown ups.
#9 - Making an Ice Sun Catcher
This is a fun and educational activity that's perfect for the holidays. Just collect some natural seasonal items, like cinnamon sticks, orange slices, cranberries or pinecones, and place them in a pie plate. Add water and freeze and you've created a beautiful sun catcher to hang from a tree outside. Remember to visit your sun catcher throughout the winter to see how it's doing and find out when it melts.
#10 - The Best Christmas Toys for Children who are Blind
Okay, one more toy and gift list to help you prepare your shopping list. This one is great because it's organized by age and activity, so you can find toys for babies, video games, sensory toys and everything in between.
There are many more sensory-friendly and accessible holiday ideas just waiting for you to find them. Follow the WonderBaby Merry Sensory Christmas Board on Pinterest for more inspiration. Is Twitter more your style? You can also follow the hashtag #blindholidayfun for accessible activities and #toys4blindkids for toy ideas.