Thursday, November 7, 2019

Vision of Christmas Tree for the Visually Impaired

The Museum of Art and Science has an annual Festival of Trees exhibit. This year, my students and I participated as a way to advocate and inform the public about what it means to be blind. I spent a couple weeks teaching my students how to make ornaments that do that. We cut pages of a Brailled magazine into 3/4" X 22" strips to fold into Moravian Stars and we cut and painted wooden dowels to make white cane ornaments. The black handle and the red bottom was made with colored tape, and the tips were made with beads. Red was added to white canes so that they could be seen in the snow. There are a lot of different tips of cane tips to be chosen according to the needs of the user. There's a pencil tip, which most of my students avoid since they get caught in side walk cracks; there's a marshmallow roller (a cylinder wider than the pencil tip, which is about the same size, shape, and color of a marshmallow), a ball tip, which is very common, and a disc shape jumbo roller.

For students who couldn't handle the complicated instructions of the Moravian star, I taught them create curls of Braille by rolling it around dowels and pencils.  Some of these, like the stars were dusted with gold spray paint.

Left over Brailed paper from the magazine was cut into quarter or half inch strips to create quilled ornaments. These ornaments make tactile images of hearts, flowers, angels, birds, snowflakes and snowmen, once glued to cut up plastic covers to Braille books.  There were also Braille beads that students strung to make words like "Joy" and "Peace," but we ran out of the letter beads we needed after a handful of ornaments.  For the tree topper, I made a large Moravian Star using poster board cut lengthwise in 2" wide strips. Two strips were glued together and folded in half.

  I took twelve high school students the the museum to decorate our assigned tree for the display. We titled it "Vision of Christmas" and if you look close enough you'll find some stress balls that look like eye balls peering out from boughs. We're not afraid of whimsy and it matched our theme.

While we were at the museum we checked out the art exhibits, the mini zoo, the artists workshop and science center for lots of hands on fun.  After a picnic lunch we made it back to the school for the second half the day, with our hearts full of early Christmas cheer.

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