When someone wants to dig deep into a topic or explore an item that is too small to fully grasp an understanding, it is common to blow it up to make a bigger and enhanced picture. We see this when scientists observe cells through a microscope, or even a large map as you enter a shopping mall. All of this is done to give the person exploring that item a clear image of the fine details. I have noticed this practiced at Mobius Children’s Museum, an interactive museum located in my hometown, Spokane, WA, where large interactive tools are everywhere within the museum.
After many observations of our students exploring and learning a number of concepts, fellow elementary teacher, Grace Gundel and I, decided that this year we needed to enhance and “jumbofy” to scale, key tools that are crucial to our students learning but also make it fun for them! In literacy, Grace has created a jumbo interactive braille cell that she uses for her letter of the day activity. It is made of large touch lights and tennis balls for all of our blind/visually impaired students to enjoy. Understanding the spacial layout of a small braille cell is difficult for many of our students and this is a way for them to recognize where each dot is oriented within the cell. In math, two tools that I have noticed students having the most difficultly with is the abacus and ruler; there is a lot going on and the smallest details can be an overwhelming tactical nightmare for some our our students. So, I decided to create a jumbo abacus and ruler for students to use as guides or fun alternatives when they are having difficulty with their much smaller math tools.
Thus far, our students have loved working with these jumbo tools. We can already see a reflection of how beneficial these have been to some of our students who may have a difficult time interpreting the information on a smaller item!
Written by Jerred Sonneborn, TVI, School for the Blind