In this video, Macy shares ten Christmas themed activities to do with blind or visually impaired children. These activities can be done as a family or with a group of friends. However, the blind or visually impaired child will most likely need a significant amount of one-on-one interaction, so be sure that they are fully included if you choose to do these activities with a group of sighted friends or family members.
1. Ice-skating. Many blind and visually impaired people do not fully understand the concept of ice-skating, so getting to experience it for themselves can be exciting and help them understand it better when their sighted peers talk about it. Of course, you shouldn’t just set your blind child free on a public skating rink full of other people. It is ideal to rent the rink so you have it to yourselves or go at a time when it is mostly empty. Your blind child will also need a sighted guide to stay with them at all times while they are skating. It is best if the guide is already an experienced skater. Also, remember that it is normal and okay if your blind child falls down. Sighted people fall while they are skating all the time, so it is fine for your blind child to do the same.
2. Christmas music. Music is something that blind children can enjoy with little to no modification. Take your blind child caroling, help them learn to play a Christmas song on an instrument, or simply listen to Christmas music together.
3. Decorating. Decorating for the holidays is an excellent opportunity to teach your blind child valuable life skills. Blind children cannot see the decorations around them, so they may need specific instructions on where to place decorations so that they are visually appealing and appropriate. Teach them how to arrange the decorations by height, make sure everything is facing the correct way, put the nicest ornaments at the front of the tree, etc. Remember that the goal is for them to be decorating their own house as an independent adult some day. Try to keep the activity fun though. It should be an enjoyable learning experience.
4. Shopping for friends and family. If you are able to shop in a physical store, this is an excellent opportunity to work on orientation and mobility skills. Explain the layout of the store to your blind child and have them work on their cane skills while you shop. If you’re shopping online, older children can work on their technology skills and control the device with their screen reader while you describe the items. If your child is younger, you can simply describe the items and explain what you’re doing. You can also work on financial skills by giving your child a budget and having them identify, count, and pay with their own money.
5. Christmas crafts. Most Christmas crafts that sighted children do are already appropriate for blind children since many of them are tactile. Try making clay ornaments, decorating stockings with jewels, making beaded ornaments, etc. The possibilities are endless when it comes to crafting with your blind child.
6. Baking. Baking is an opportunity to teach your blind child many skills like measuring, stirring, frosting, using cookie cutters, and so on. Older children can learn to use the oven and read their own recipes using a screen reader or smart home device, and your blind child can set the timers using a phone or other accessible device.
7. Making Christmas cards. There are many ways to make Christmas cards tactile. You can use puff paint to outline shapes for your blind child to fill in, there are all kinds of tactile stickers available, and children who are fluent in braille can use braille to create Christmas designs and braille their own messages. Click here for some braille Christmas designs.
8. Wrapping presents. This is a skill that is difficult for blind people of all ages, so don’t expect perfection from your blind child. Gift bags and decorative boxes will probably be their best friend, but you should still teach them the skill of wrapping presents so they understand the concept. Teach them which way the tape should go, how to fold the paper and make nice creases, and how to tie the bows. Try to buy textured wrapping paper and bows that will match everything, especially if your child is totally blind. Let your child braille on label paper, and place the braille next to your print on the name tags. Remember that it’s okay if the packages look like a blind person wrapped them as long as they try their best and learn some new skills.
9. Watching Christmas movies. Movies are a huge part of our culture, and it is important for blind children to have context for the movies that their sighted peers are referencing. Not all blind children will be interested in watching movies, but if they do express an interest, try to find audio described Christmas movies or describe them yourself while you watch the movies together.
10. Writing letters to Santa. Have your blind child braille the letter or type it on the computer depending on their skill level. Let them hand write the address on the envelope if they are able to write print legibly, or create the address label on the computer if they are using a screen reader. Take this opportunity to discuss where the information goes on the envelope and explain how the mail system works. Consider having Santa write them a braille response.