Day: April 22, 2014

Materials for the Littleroom

As sighted people, we need to let go of our concept of “good toy”.  What is interesting to us is often cute, colorful and represents things we see in the world.  I think about what captures my interest as I shop for my sighted grandniece.  These are not very interesting to a child with a visual impairment.

Close your eyes as you chose a toy.

Is that cold, hard plastic duck engaging?

Does that furry teddy bear feel interesting?

The answer is often “no”.

Now feel a set of metal measuring spoons.  Not much of a toy to you but to a child with a visual impairment, the shape is fascinating.  These spoons are different sizes that can be compared. The temperature is cold.  The spoons react differently when you hold them in different ways.  They make great sounds when the clack together and great sounds when banged on other surfaces.  Now that’s a toy for a littleroom!

When picking materials for the littleroom, close your eyes.  Sound, sizes, texture, weight, temperature, and changeability are the qualities we want to look for.

Littleroom

Little Room

Littleroom

The concept of the little room was created by Lilli Nielsen. It is based on the Active Learning central idea that children with visual impairments need access to materials at all times at near to stimulate their minds to explore and compare. This access at near provides consistent tactile, visual and often auditory stimulation. Children in the little room explore without adult intervention. We always create little rooms to match children’s visual needs. Some children benefit from only red shiny items and not too many items (too complex). They might benefit from a white gauze cloth across the top (reduces complexity). Within this familiar environment children begin to reach to the predictable materials. Under the little room is a resonance board often made of birch. Movements create echoed sounds. I find children often increase vocalizations in this sound chamber. Children may need short exposures to this new environment in the beginning but by slowly increasing time in this play space, every child I have worked with loves this activity! When minds are stimulated, far less self body play is needed. Self body play is the child’s way to create stimulation for their brain. We want to decrease the need for this self body play and increase the child’s engagement with the world and the little room is the prefect way!

Check out more great ideas at Hold Everything

Click to access hold_everything.pdf