Activities of the Day

Review past BEE activities of the day here. For more BEE resources, please visit our BEE archive.

Balls in a Bucket

  • You Will Need: Six buckets arranged in the shape of a Braille cell—three going down in a column on the left, and three going down in a column on the right. You will also need at least six balls.
  • What to Do: Have your child form Braille letters by either placing or throwing balls into the buckets. For example, if your child wanted to make the letter "i," a ball would need to be in the dot 2 and the dot 4 positions—the middle bucket on the left, and the top bucket on the right.
  • Tap Tip: Tap on each bucket so your child can hear where to throw the ball. This can be a really fun way for sighted siblings and neighbors to learn how to make Braille letters.

Learning to Clean Up Solid Messes 

  • Education Goal: Practice cleaning in a pattern.
  • What Is Needed: A rag or paper towel and a surface in need of cleaning.
  • How to Play
    • Solid messes present advantages over liquid messes because they do not need to be cleaned as quickly; they are not going anywhere. Allow your child the time he or she needs to explore how big or small the mess is. Make sure he or she understands how the table or counter feels when it is clean and how it feels when it is dirty. This is essential so they will know when they have finished cleaning. This is especially true if he or she has some usable vision. Make sure he or she uses their hands as well as her eyes. They might not be able to see a mess as easily as it can be felt. A way to make learning this skill more fun is to scatter something your child enjoys eating, such as gummies or chocolate chips, over a surface. 
    • Show your child how to scoop crumbs, chips, or other solid items into their hand and throw them away before he or she begins wiping. 
    • Help your child develop a system. Perhaps he or she begins in the middle of the mess and works their way either outward or inward, gathering as much of the mess as possible into the middle. Either way is fine as long as he or she is working gently. This will help the child avoid making a bigger mess or spilling onto the floor by wiping too quickly or vigorously.
    • Teach your child how to brush crumbs into the rag that is being used to wipe the mess. Fold the rag so the crumbs that are wiped up stay contained and then dump the crumbs into the sink. Rinse the rag and begin the process over again. 
    • This is a multi-step skill and will need to be broken into smaller sections. Young children should begin to understand and practice these concepts. You may start by having them feel your hands when you wipe, feel the rag as you fold it and clean with a different side, help you take the rag to the sink, shake it off, run it under water, and squeeze it to rinse. 
    • As your child gains confidence, have him or her independently complete as many steps as possible, with guided prompting only when necessary.  Assist the child with the steps that he or she finds more difficult. 
    • As tempting as it might be to go behind your child and complete the cleaning of a spill or mess, avoid doing so as much as possible. Yes, at times you might need to help with large messes; all parents do. Make sure your child has at least a small area he or she is responsible for cleaning by themselves. Most importantly, if he or she does not do the entire job, show the child what still needs to be cleaned and stay with the child until everything has been cleaned up completely. This will take longer and involve some strong emotions, but your child will do a better job next time, and the time after that. Soon, he or she will be able to clean any mess all by himself or herself. 

Make and Follow an Amazing Maze  

  • Educational Goal: Practice tracking; practice following different paths.
  • Background: Mazes are not just great for logical thinking and fun; they can help children practice tactile skills necessary for Braille reading as well (assuming the maze itself is tactile.) Children need to use their fingers to follow lines or paths in a maze. They need to be logical in their movements when starting at the beginning and moving to the end. Mazes can also be created so the child starts at the top left of a page and travels to the bottom right of the page. Mazes have the added bonus of opening discussions about travel. Choosing the correct, or shortest, path and knowing that even if they get “lost” in the maze, they learn from that experience. The exploration and learning is part of the fun.
  • How to Play: You can use almost any tactile material to create a maze on paper. Some suggestions include, yarn, strips of sandpaper, ribbons of tape, lines drawn with a tracing wheel, and a pen using a Sensational Blackboard or screen board. Glue or puffy paint make nice thin lines that are easy to feel. For older children, you can purchase a book of mazes and place tactile materials over the mazes for your child to use. You can create simple mazes for young children using the above referenced materials. You can even make a maze in Braille. 
  • Braille Maze Directions (note: a full cell is all 6 dots pressed down)
    • Line 1: 4 full cells; 2 spaces; 22 full cells
    • Line 2: 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell
    • Line 3: 1 full cell; 17 spaces; 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell
    • Line 4: 4 full cells; 2 spaces; 16 full cells; 2 spaces; 4 full cells
    • Line 5: 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell
    • Line 6: 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell; 17 spaces; 1 full cell
    • Line 7: 4 full cells; 2 spaces; 7 full cells; 2 spaces; 7 full cell; 2 spaces; 4 full cells
    • Line 8: 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell
    • Line 9: 4 full cells; 2 spaces; 7 full cells; 2 spaces; 7 full cell; 2 spaces; 4 full cells
    • Line 10: 4 full cells; 2 spaces; 7 full cells; 2 spaces; 7 full cell; 2 spaces; 4 full cells
    • Line 11: 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell
    • Line 12: 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell
    • Line 13: 4 full cells; 2 spaces; 7 full cells; 2 spaces; 7 full cell; 2 spaces; 4 full cells
    • Line 14: 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell
    • Line 15: 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell; 8 spaces; 1 full cell
    • Line 16: 22 Full cells; 2 spaces; four full cell

Learning to Clean Up Liquid Messes   

  • Education Goal: Practice cleaning up liquid spills.
  • What Is Needed: Rag or paper towel, spilled liquid
  • How to Play
    • Make sure your child knows where paper towels, regular towels, or dish cloths are kept. Make certain that he or she can retrieve these quickly and independently.
    • Encourage your child to use their hands to find where the liquid has spilled. Teach your child how to lay a paper towel over the spill or to wipe up the spill.
    • Encourage your child to use his ears to listen for the sound of liquid dripping off of a table or chair. This is a great clue that can be used to determine where to wipe next.
    • Make sure your child understands that liquids do not stay in one neat area when they spill; they can spread everywhere! Help your child explore the entire area of the table to make sure he has wiped up the entire spill. Make sure he or she explores chairs and the floor to see if they need to be wiped.
    • Teach your child that sugary drinks can attract ants, and milk can smell very sour if it is not cleaned up all the way. Help your child wipe the table or floor with a clean wet rag in order to remove any possible stickiness or odor.
    • As tempting as it might be to go behind your child and complete the cleaning of a spill or mess, avoid doing so as much as possible. At times you might need to help with large messes; all parents do. Make sure your child has at least a small area he or she is responsible for cleaning by his or herself. Most importantly, if the child does not do the entire job, show him or her what still needs to be cleaned. Stay with the child until the entire spill has been cleaned up. This will take longer and it might involve some strong emotions, but your child will do a better job the next time, and the time after that.

Create a Chore Chart for Young Children  

  • Education Goal: Practice organizational skills.
  • How to Play
    • Many families have sticker charts of some type listing chores (either in pictures or words) and then have spaces for stickers that are earned when the chore is completed. Making a chore chart using Braille, either by putting clear Braille labels on a print chart or Brailling the entire chart yourself (or asking your child’s teacher of blind students for help in Brailling) is a great way to practice Braille. There is no right or wrong way to create a chore chart. Some parents are extremely creative and have chore charts full of fun graphics. Other charts simply list chores and have space after each chore to put a sticker when the chore is complete. You can have a different chore chart for each day of the week, or a single chart with a week’s worth of chores. Tactile graph paper might help when creating charts. You can cut it apart and use individual squares as places to put stickers or have your child color in each square with a crayon so he can easily feel when each chore is complete.
    • For very young children, or if you do not currently have access to a way to Braille, you could use real objects instead of words—a small piece of dishcloth to represent wiping a table after lunch, a matchbox car to represent picking up toys, or a crayon to represent helping to pack a backpack for school.

Create a Chore Chart for Older Children   

  • Education Goal: Practice organizational skills.
  • How to Play
    • Older children can use the same charts as younger ones, but they might benefit from using new skills to keep track of things that need to be done.
    • You can help children write their own list of chores in Braille. These can be written on one piece of paper and the child can put a Braille “X” before or after each list item when it is completed, or chores can be written on notecards and children can place completed chores in a “done” file box.
    • Notecards are particularly helpful for this because they give children a way to quantify how many chores need to be done—do you have a big pile or a little pile today? Each notecard is a separate chore so children can feel a sense of accomplishment when they are able to put each card into the box that they have decorated!
    • If it is helpful to your child, you can even list the individual steps that need to be performed to complete a larger chore or project.
    • Notecards can also be used to encourage children to make their own choices about what chore they complete first, second, or third. On the other hand, if chores need to be accomplished in a specific order, you can have a conversation with your child about what he or she needs to do first, and what comes second and third. You can help make sure he or she has  notecards in the correct order.
    • Braille checklists probably cannot be used week to week or day to day, but notecards have the additional advantage of being able to be saved and used over again, assuming the chores your child needs to complete stay the same.

Create a Braille Message in a Bottle   

  • Education Goal: Practice Braille.
  • What Is needed: One (or more) plastic juice or other drink bottle(s)—make sure the bottle you choose has a wide mouth so the message can easily be placed into and pulled out of the bottle.
  • Decorations for each bottle, which could include stickers of different shapes and textures, cotton balls, construction paper, or even different colors of duct tape.
    • Glue
    • Scissors
    • Index cards
    • One pipe cleaner (for hanging up your creation)
  • Directions
    • Clean each bottle and make sure it is thoroughly dry before you begin. Your child can help with this.
    • Have your child decorate his or her bottle or a number of bottles to give to other friends or family.
    • Have your child Braille a message on an index card to put inside each bottle. If your child is too young to do the Brailling, you or a teacher could Braille the message for your child.
    • If you like, poke two holes across from one another on the upper part of the bottle, below the cap. Thread a pipe cleaner through the holes, knotting the ends, so the bottle can be hung.
  • The uses for these bottles are endless. Maybe family members could put messages for each other in these bottles. Alternatively, they could write something they appreciate about each family member every day. In whatever way your family decides to use the bottles, we hope you enjoy creating them together and have fun making Braille a part of this project.

Create a Pasta Box   

  • Education Goal: Increase tactile awareness.
  • How to Play
    • This is a fun activity for toddlers, preschoolers, and, perhaps, even for school age children. You will need a storage bin with a tight fitting lid. Many families prefer a bin that is long and low.  Bins that are designed to slip under a bed are a perfect size and height.
    • A large quantity of different shapes of uncooked pasta is also needed. Wagon wheels, bow tie, spiral, and tube shaped pasta are great.  Use whatever you can find, keeping in mind, the more variety, the better. Pour all of the pasta into the storage bin and encourage your child to play in the pasta. Providing wooden spoons, bowls, buckets, small shovels, or other tools helps to increase the fun and play.
    • While your child is playing, discuss the different properties of the noodles. Talk about the different shapes, textures, sizes, and even colors of the noodles. You can have your child sort the different types of noodles into different containers.  For example, “Please give me a wagon wheel, a bow tie, and a spiral, then another wagon wheel, bow tie, and spiral.” Another activity could include having your child create patterns with the noodles.
    • Although they are playing, this activity helps to prepare young children for reading or reinforce reading concepts. It also helps with fine motor skills, distinguishing different attributes of an object by touch, pattern creation and recognition.  Lastly, it can help with hand strength if your child does a lot of digging and scooping.

Create a Journal   

  • Education Goal: Practice Braille.
  • How to Play
    • Have your child write a daily or weekly journal detailing what they have done. Next, have them read it out loud to you. Reading something out loud encourages fluidity and fluency, as well as self-confidence.
    • For many blind or low vision children, reading out loud is uncomfortable and scary. Fears like, “I can’t read fast enough, I can’t see in this lighting, and I can’t read my own writing,” can come into play.
    • For the child resisting Braille, this is the perfect opportunity to practice. In the words of Malcolm Gladwell, “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” What better place to practice than the safety of their own home?

Getting Eggy with It!   

  • Education Goal: Practice Braille.
  • How to Play
    • Cut an egg carton to resemble a Braille cell. 
    • Next, hard boil six eggs and go!
    • Ask your child to make various Braille letters or contractions. You could even have your child help you boil the eggs.

Braille Duck Pond

  • Education Goal: Practice Braille.
  • Materials: Rubber ducks (or some other type of animal; no one says they all have to be ducks), labels of some type with Braille including letters, numbers, and short words.
  • How to Play
    • Attach the labels to the bottoms of the ducks or other animals. You can use paper that has a sticky backing, or cut apart note cards and attach them with tape.
    • Put the animals in a wading pool, though we suggest no water in the pool since water and labels do not mix well. Or place them in a box or in a pile on the floor or table.
    • Have your child pick a duck or animal. If they can read the letter, give them some type of small prize.
    • If the child picks more than one animal and the animals have numbers on them, see if they can add the numbers together and get the correct total, then give the child a small prize. The same goes if the child can read the numbers—give them a small prize.
    • Have older children read the letter and tell you a word that starts with that letter or the Braille contraction represented by that letter. The playing possibilities are endless!

Let’s Play a Game!

  • Education Goal: Practice Braille.
  • How to Play 
    • It's a good time to stay inside and play board games. Both board games and card games are a great way to build Braille literacy. It's fun to use Braille to read the names of places on a board, numbers on cards, or instructions to a game.
    • Bingo for example, has many words, letters, and phrases that need to be read and marked. It provides excellent Braille practice and makes practicing Braille fun, especially when working as a team or against an opponent.
    • You can also practice Braille reading speed if you are playing a game that needs to move more quickly. With card games such as UNO, the numbers and differing directions can be an added challenge.
    • Another excellent literacy-building game is a word search. You can Braille word search puzzles for your child. It's a good way to practice letters, spelling, and circling with a pen, crayon, or pencil. It also helps the child learn concepts like horizontal, diagonal, and vertical.
    • If you don't feel like playing a game, use a Braille Scrabble board and challenge your child to spell words. This is another source of Braille letter practice. 

Let’s Dance!

  • Education Goal: Practice concepts such as moving left and right and following directions, and improve gross motor skills.
  • How to Play
    • Many fun dancing songs such as “The Hokey Pokey,” “The Bunny Hop,” or “It’s a Very Simple Dance to Do” involve following directions including left and right. These are very important directions in travel. The dances also reinforce concepts such as in and out, forward and backward, and working on gross motor skills such as jumping, hopping, and spinning. Practice some of these dances with your child and then try making up your own dance together.

Bathtub or Water Braille

  • Education Goal: Practice Braille.
  • What You Need: Six cups, water
  • How to Play
    • This game was originally invented during bath time but it can also be played using water in the kitchen sink, or on sunny days, with water from a water table or wading pool.
    • Arrange the six cups in the shape of a Braille cell—two columns of three cups each.
    • Take turns with your child filling the containers with water to form different Braille letters. For example, if you wanted to make the letter B, the first two cups in the left hand column should be filled with water. To make a letter W, the second cup on the left should be filled, and the three cups on the right should be filled.
    • Even older children can enjoy this game. Ask them to create contractions such as ST, GH, or ED. Use a larger number of cups in order to make more complex contractions or even longer words.

Scented Spring Ornament

  • Education Goal: Practice measuring and mixing.
  • What You Need: 1 cup salt, 1 cup water, 2 cups flour, essential oil (vanilla or some other type of baking extract may also work to provide the scent), spring themed cookie cutters (egg, bunny, chick, tree, or anything else that you would like), 1 straw, ribbon, paints, markers, stickers, or anything else that will add texture and decoration to the ornaments
  • How to Play
    • Mix salt, water, and flour to make the dough. If the dough is sticky, you may add a bit more flour so it is easier to work with. Let your child help you measure the ingredients, pour them into the bowl, and mix the dough.
    • Add two drops of essential oil.
    • Roll out the dough on a cookie sheet and let your child use the cookie cutters to cut out the ornaments.
    • Use the straw to make a hole in the top of each ornament.
    • Bake at 350 degrees for ten to fifteen minutes.
    • Add a drop of essential oil on each ornament so they will retain their smell.
    • When the ornaments are cool, let your child paint them, color them with markers, put stickers on them, or decorate them in any other fun and creative way.
    • Put a ribbon through the hole in each ornament so they can be hung on a door knob, a hook, or wherever you need some color.

Create a Treasure Hunt

  • Education Goal: Practice Braille, practice travel skills.
  • How to Play
    • What was that green flash? Oh, I think it was a leprechaun leaving a pot of gold somewhere in your house or yard! This can be a fun time for a treasure hunt, which will encourage movement, following directions, and could even include Braille depending on the age of your child.
    • For young children, this treasure hunt could be as simple as someone standing or sitting across the room and shaking keys, a musical instrument, or anything else you can pretend is gold. Your child can be encouraged to follow the sound and find out where the noise is coming from and what is making the noise.
    • Older children can be told there is a pot of gold hidden somewhere in the house or yard. You can give verbal directions; play the “hot and cold” game, or any other way you can think of to help your child find the pot of gold.
    • If you play this game outside, this can be a wonderful time to use cane skills to find objects and to practice walking confidently.
    • If your child is learning or reading Braille, you can Braille clues for your child to follow in order to find the gold. This can be a fun way to involve family members. Older and younger siblings can help solve clues, but your blind child will be the star of the show because he or she will have to read the next clue in Braille before the hunt can continue. 

Get to Know the Calendar

  • Education Goal: Practice Braille; become familiar with the calendar layout.
  • How to Play
    • Many of us rely on a calendar to help us keep track of appointments, school functions, birthdays, and holidays. For most of us our calendar is on our smartphone while others still want and need to use other calendars that are accessible and include Braille.
    • Blind children need to learn about a variety of calendars, including technical and non-technical versions. There is still value in the Braille calendar. Braille calendars allow a person to recognize the layout of a calendar, and make learning the days of the week and month names much easier.
    • Many children learn about calendars in school, so it is important that blind children have a copy of this important tool in Braille. You can make one at home. 
    • Put important dates, such as family birthdays, anniversaries, and dates for upcoming trips on the calendar. It will give your child something to look forward to.
    • Your child can enjoy counting down days by making a mark next to each date with a crayon or marker.
    • The American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults provides free Braille calendars to any blind person, school, or rehabilitation facility. You can request a calendar by sending an email to calendars@actionfund.org. Please note that shipping may be delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Kitchen Exploration

  • Education Goal: Orientation to the kitchen; ability to explore.
  • How to Play
    • Blind children should be encouraged to help in the kitchen as early as possible. Letting your blind child explore a cabinet filled with different types of pots and pans gives him or her early foundational skills to understand his or her world in a fuller way.
    • Take the time to let toddlers feel different ingredients when you measure them out. Your child should begin to learn the difference between how brown sugar and white sugar feel—even what a raw egg feels like when it has been cracked.
    • Allow older children to help by showing them how to measure ingredients. This includes making certain that a cup is filled to the top.
    • Show them how to shape cookies and place them on a cookie sheet, how to spread cake batter in a pan, or how to line muffin tins with paper liners, and how to pour batter into those liners to make cupcakes or muffins.
    • Finally, and most importantly, make sure your child knows where baking tools and ingredients are stored in your kitchen. Make him or her aware of what a wooden spoon, measuring spoons, measuring cups, and other tools used for baking feel like.
    • Perhaps you can set an hour or two aside so you can have your child go through your kitchen drawers and explain to him or her the purpose and name of any gadget he or she comes across.
    • This can be a perfect exercise to fill time during these days inside. Your child will thank you for this knowledge as he or she grows.

Create a Chain of Kindness

  • Education Goal: Practice Braille.
  • How to Play
    • Ask your child to come up with tasks he or she would like to do for others. Have the child write each of these tasks on a strip of paper. 
    • Mix the strips up and form them into a chain. 
    • Each day, remove a strip from the chain and read what is written on that strip. Your child can perform that task and, in turn, do something nice for someone every day.
    • This would make a great Mother’s Day gift provided all of the things on the chain are things your child wants to do for his or her mother.

Braille Musical Chairs

  • Education Goal: Practice Braille; practice locating chairs with a cane.
  • How to Play: Arrange six dining chairs in the shape of a Braille cell. Get six participants to sit and swap seats, and then ask which dots they are sitting in and what letter or contraction that makes.

Sing It Out

  • Education Goal: Practice Braille.
  • How to Play
    • A fun way to practice reading is to use song lyrics! Write some of your child's favorite songs in Braille. Have them practice reading them as you sing together. This will help build their speed and fluency with familiar words. Then, learn a new song together by Brailling words to a song that neither of you knows and singing it together. Have your child listen to a song and try to Braille the lyrics. This is a great way to improve slate speed and accuracy. See which of you can get more lyrics right! You can put your songs together in a binder as a songbook to use again and again.

Getting Involved in the Kitchen

  • Education Goal: Practice exploration; learn about various kitchen items.
  • How to Play
    • Blind children should be encouraged to help in the kitchen as early as possible. Even letting your blind child explore a cabinet filled with different types of pots and pans gives them early foundational skills to understand their world in a fuller way. Take the time to let toddlers feel different ingredients while you are measuring them. Your child should begin to learn the difference between how brown sugar and white sugar feel, and even what a raw egg feels like when cracked.
    • Allow older children to help by showing them how to measure ingredients and how to make sure a cup is filled to the top. Show them how to shape cookies and place them on a cookie sheet, how to spread cake batter in a pan, or how to line muffin tins with paper liners and how to pour batter into those liners.
    • Finally, and most important, make sure your child knows where baking tools and ingredients are stored in your kitchen. Make them aware of what a wooden spoon, measuring spoons, measuring cups, and other tools used for baking feel like. Perhaps, set an hour or two aside so you can have your child go through your kitchen drawer and explain to them the purpose and name of any gadget they come across. This can be a perfect exercise to fill time on a day inside, and your child will thank you for this knowledge as they grow.