When we were first getting started with the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired (CCVI), and I was just beginning to learn braille, I asked for ideas on how to teach Peanut braille. I knew all sorts of tricks for teaching print and cursive English, but when it came to braille, I was at a loss. Ann told me that one of the tools they use in their own classrooms are egg cartons and golf balls.
Once you cut it in half (if you’re using a standard 12-egg carton), your egg carton becomes a perfect braille cell. The golf balls are then the dots for the braille letters and symbols.
All you need to make your own cell is a 6 or 12-egg egg carton; I used a 12-egg carton and cut it in half. I learned from a friend that golf balls go bad after repeated use; although they’re no longer good for golfing, they’re still perfectly fine for brailling. I got my golf balls from a friendly coworker who donated them to me. I went ahead and made two of these, so now I can make a letter in my cell and try to get Peanut to copy it. I also left the sides and lid on so I can store the golf balls in the carton when we’re not working with them.
This tool is ridiculously easy to make and is the low low cost of free, if you’re able to find someone to give you his or her old golf balls. (If you don’t know anyone who golfs, you might try asking at local golf course.) The balls have a nice weight to them and bounce, so Peanut loves playing with them on their own; he also enjoys wiggling the balls out of the egg carton when I’ve tried to close the carton to put them up for the day. This has worked out both as an early literacy tool and a regular toy for our toddler.