Blind children can and should participate in art activities. Adapting the material and focus to highlight their abilities is key for their enjoyment. Teachers should offer material that stimulates their other senses such as touch, smell and hearing to create collages, sculptures and portraits. Some children like to explain their thoughts on their projects; others simply want to play with the supplies. Either way, giving blind children an equal opportunity to express themselves is important for their development.
Create a picture by feeling. Gather a wide variety of materials with different textures. Encourage children to decide upon a particular image to represent with the combination of objects; for example, they can make a playground collage or a portrait of themselves or a favourite pet. To do this, they will need to first explore the different textures in the chosen item, using their fingertips to gather the information. Recreate the chosen place or object on a piece of heavy cardboard with glue, sand, aluminium foil, sticks, fabric and other items. Once complete, the collage can be covered with a piece of tightly stretched nylon to protect the artwork while still allowing it to be experienced by the artist and fellow blind children.
Blocks can become an integral part of a blind child's art experience. Connecting blocks allows children to explore lines and shapes and make objects with their imaginations. Legos, Mega Bloks and Bristle blocks are appropriate choices since they can be pressed together to hold. Traditional blocks will topple when the sculptures are revisited with a blind child's hands.
The sculpture can even be given a title and displayed for others to enjoy. Consider asking the child to dictate their ideas into a Braille machine to set next to their creation for other blind individuals to read and learn of the artist's intentions while creating their sculpture.
Paper sculptures can be made with newspaper, glossy magazine pages and tape. You can gather the perfumed pages from women's magazines for more sensory experience. Introduce the blind child to crumbling the paper into long tubes, round balls and stacks of perfumed sections, then help them attach everything with tape. You can use a roll of masking tape that the blind child can tear by himself. Consider having the child wear the roll on his wrist for easy access.
You can make sound bags with blind children as a part of an ongoing art project. To get started, you will need zipped baggies and an assortment of items such as rice, sand, aluminium foil, marbles, clay, rubber bands and shredded paper. Let the child place a handful of rice, sand or other material in a baggie. Help the child press out most of the air, seal it, and then place it within a second bag or use a strip of duct tape to secure. You can place the baggies in a box for children to squeeze and discover.
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