From Vol. 2, Issue 9.
Sometimes the best way to engage your readers is through their stomachs. Start your blind child in the kitchen early. Have your
child help and they will start learning valuable skills for the future. Not only will they learn cooking skills but Braille as well. Here are ways that you can incorporate Braille into the kitchen:
- No matter what the cooking lesson, be it cookies, pizza or fruit salad, have them make Braille letters. They can make a personalized chocolate chip cookie or pizza for every member of your family by putting the first letter of their name on it in Braille.
- We have touched on great ways to use playdough to increase hand strength. There is a whole site dedicated to edible playdough http://bit.ly/nkVvAY. Even if your child is allergic to peanuts or gluten-/casein-free, there are enough options on the site that you should be able to find a recipe. If your child has no special dietary requirements, then the following recipe is tried and true: 1 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup honey, and 2 cups powdered sugar.
- Having your child finger paint is a great way to combat tactile defensiveness. Instead of having them use paint, try using pudding or cooked spaghetti noodles. It’s very important for your child to reach out and touch things. A way to encourage this is to start exposing them to different textures as early as possible.
This next recipe isn’t exactly tasty, however it’s the best recipe I’ve found for puff paint. Small children love the feeling
of puff paint but can’t use it due to its toxic nature. This puff paint recipe is nontoxic, though it might not taste great. Mix up a batch of this to paint or have your child use it to create Braille dots in a fun, tactile way. Perfect Puff Paint
Peanut hates having his hands dirty, so I entirely understand the idea of “tactile defensiveness.” Instead of using pudding or spaghetti (I have no idea how you’d paint with spaghetti noodles alone . . . ), I made finger paints for Peanut using yogurt. You can make all sorts of colors, it’s edible, and I hear you can keep it if it dries out right (I tried drying ours on the deck with no luck; you might have better success than I did).
- Plain, unflavored yogurt. I just bought the cheapest stuff on the shelf. I recommend not licking the spoon when scooping out the yogurt, as plain nonfat yogurt is actually pretty disgusting.
- Food coloring.
You can guess how this recipe goes. I have a set of prep bowls, so I scooped about a quarter cup of yogurt each into three of the bowls. I then asked Peanut what colors he wanted, and made three different colors of “paint” using the instructions on the back of the food coloring box. I then put the little bowls on his easel, got some paper ready for him, and encouraged him to paint.
Peanut was not sure of this “finger paint” thing at first–he tried using the little food coloring bottles to paint with, then grabbed a marker to paint with; essentially, he avoided using his hands as long as possible. Once I got him started with his little hands, he did stop a couple of times to hold his hands out and cry that they were dirty. I informed him that it was OK to be dirty sometimes, and got him started painting again. By the end, he had used up all of our “paint,” was enthusiastically dipping his hands into the “paint,” and was giving me instructions on how I needed to paint with him. All in all, I’d call the yogurt paint a success–and it was cheap (under $2) and there’s quite a bit of it (I’ve got enough yogurt left for another few batches).