attribute trays

Active Learning: Attribute Trays




Sighted children have constant opportunities to visually compare and contrast items in their world.

Creating opportunities to stimulate the brain to compare and contrast like objects is an important learning event for children with visual impairments of all kinds.  But the opportunities must be provided as much as possible.

Attribute trays are a great way to provide this access.  The trays provide opportunities for children to build cognitive, language and tactile skills.  They give children the necessary time for full exploration and give repeated opportunities to become familiar with everyday objects.

Here is one example of an attribute tray about brushes.  The brushes are attached to the pegboard with elastic so children will not drop and lose the materials.  The elastic allows the material to be brought to the mouth for tactile exploration or brought closer for possible visual exploration.  It builds object permanence as the child is taught to pull the elastic to retrieve the brush that has fallen off the tray edge.  The child builds understanding of the variety of brushes in the world.  They build concepts and experience the differences in size, shape, weight, function, sound created, temperature and texture.  Most important of all, these trays provide meaningful stimulation to the brain to reduce self body play.

Others types of trays you could create:

Different types of spoons

A variety of balls

Items with holes

Things that bend

Things that break apart

Things that vibrate when pushed

Things with buttons to create sound

Long things

Heavy things

Beads and necklaces


Plates of different sizes and shapes

Cups of different sizes and colors

Bowls with balls or beads

Selection of slinkys

Tray of ribbons of different textures and sizes

Tray of fabrics

Selection of musical instruments

Selection of sponges

Nesting cup set (can be used as a cup or tower)

Trays of functional items to allow for expended exploration of items used daily.

  • Dinner materials: cup, spoon, plate
  • Bath materials: sponge, soap on a rope, washcloth.
  • Getting ready for bed: toothbrush, floss, washcloth, book