I really appreciate the questions. Your questions bring up great ideas and topics for blogs!
I received this blog question regarding the Littleroom:
Our colleague wrote: “I would also love your thoughts on the objects placed in the Little Room. How often would you change the objects? Would you move the same objects to different areas of the Littleroom? And do you have a good way to document how a child interacts with the toys, which toys are more often explored, etc?”
When thinking about providing the child with CVI with a littleroom playspace, I think about my goals. If my goal is listening, touch and activation using compensatory skills, I use a regular littleroom with many objects hung close to the child for accidental activation. As the child begins to know where things are, I raise the objects just a bit at a time to encourage reaching and more distant exploration.
If my goal is looking, I think about the visual environment and use the assessment to make the design:
- Use bright, single colored objects.
- Hang things in the littleroom on elastic so they move.
- The littleroom is a playspace that is created and no one need to hold objects for the child. It allows things to hang in the child’s visual space as long as the child requires.
- Hang materials in the best visual field.
- If the child is looking in their best field to an object, I move it to the weaker visual field. Use the favorite toys first.
- Clutter: cover the top of the littleroom with a white gaze or felt (see picture below) so the child has a great plain background not a complex ceiling with tiles and lights. Toys can make noise in the littleroom and although the child might stop looking, its just fun. There is time to look again.
- All the materials in a littleroom hang at near!
- With accommodations for extra response time, best visual field, bright color, movement and the reduction of clutter and provision of spacing, the child has the best chance of reaching.
I keep things the same in the littleroom for as long as a child needs. I think we think kids are bored but children like sameness. (I think of how many times I read the same book to my daughter!)
I will response to the last part of the question tomorrow.
Here are some great directions for building a play space littleroom from Wonder Baby on the Perkins School for the Blind website.
This only one of many types that can be created.
Click to access play-area-blueprint.pdf
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.
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