The holidays are a time that everyone should be able to enjoy—especially those whose abilities may be different. Today, we’re sharing our best tips for creating a truly magical holiday experience for kids with visual impairments. Read on for some tips, gift ideas, and activities provided by Andrea Hamen, Orientation and Mobility Specialist for NewView Oklahoma and Certified Teacher of the Blind. Happy Holidays!
- When wrapping gifts, incorporate the colors your child sees best, and add contrast if helpful for your child’s vision. Then use glitter, ornaments, and bows to add decorative texture!
- Remove toys from packaging before wrapping so they are more easily identified when opened.
- When decorating around the house, use bright, colorful lights to help child your child see and navigate easily. It’s also helpful to use live or natural decorations—these will add sensory interest (touch and smell) for your child.
- Remove any decorations that could be hazardous for those with low vision, such as candles that may be knocked over or cords that could cause someone to trip.
- Give a “tour” of any newly arranged rooms for increased mobility. This is especially applicable if you’ve added a Christmas tree to the main family space.
- Create a plan for travel! Whether using visual scanning, sighted guide, or a white cane, it is especially important for a child with low vision to have a backup plan in the event they get separated from their family or group.
- Braille playing cards, Bingo or dice
- Tactile toys and toys with sound and light for younger children
- Building blocks, Legos, magnetic tiles
- Play Dough, Silly Putty, kinesthetic sand
- Footballs, basketballs or soccer balls with bells inside
- Touch and feel books
- Check out familyconnect.org for other great gift ideas!
- Make Rice Krispies treats together for a tactile activity.
- Cut out and decorate sugar cookies.
- Decorate gingerbread houses with a variety of candies.
- Make DIY tactile holiday ornaments.
- Involve children in gift wrapping, from bagging gifts to adding bows to packages.