Explore New Interests

Enjoying and engaging in hobbies and recreational activities is critical to our emotional and social development. Hobbies are a wonderful way to experience different social circles and develop a passion alongside others. Elementary years are a time to explore many different hobbies and passions. Fortunately, many hobbies and activities can be adapted to suit the needs and abilities of children who are blind or have low vision. It may take some communication, trial, and error to figure out how to best adapt the hobby or activity for your child, but the effort will be worth it.

Music

Music offers the opportunity to learn patterns, rhyming, rhythm, and ways to express emotions. Music is more than learning to play an instrument. It is singing joyfully from the top of your lungs, dancing, moving your body with the beat, learning to express creativity, and building confidence. Adapting music may include braille music sheets or adding raised or tactile markers on an instrument. 

Explore music:

  • Singing- Use large print or braille to learn words.
  • Concerts- Enjoy a favorite or local music group or concert. Don’t forget to bring headphones or earplugs as it may be too loud.
  • Instruments- Learn to play an instrument such as piano, keyboard, drums, guitar, ukulele, violin, bells, or bongos.
  • Move to the music- Learn various dance styles such as jazz, tap, hip hop, or ballet. 

Sports

Adapting sports for your child who is blind or has low vision may sound overwhelming. However, there are many ways to adapt sports, and there are even sports specifically designed for athletes who are blind or have low vision. Your child will likely become interested in the same sports you enjoy playing or watching. Finding ways to share your passion and joy for your favorite team and sport will create a bond with your child and memories for a lifetime. These sports can help children build physical fitness, coordination, and teamwork skills while providing a fun and competitive outlet for their energy.

Explore sports: 

  • Beep Baseball is designed for athletes who are blind or have low vision and uses a ball that beeps and bases that buzz to help players navigate the field to score runs. 
  • Cycling with a tandem bike is a great way to stay active and enjoy riding with a sighted partner.
  • Judo is adapted by maintaining contact with your opponent during the match. This sport shares many attributes with wrestling.
  • Swimming can be adapted by providing a ‘tapper’ who taps the swimmer when it’s time to flip-turn. Swimming consists of all four competitive strokes: butterfly, breaststroke, backstroke, and freestyle. 
  • Track and Field athletes can use a guide runner for many events. Long jump adaptations include a beeper that speeds up as the athlete nears the takeoff point. Shot put can be adapted using a beep baseball for younger athletes and a hula-hoop to develop skills to stay inside the circle. 
  • Blind Hockey is an adaptive form of Ice Hockey. It is played with a larger, slower puck that makes noise, and goal nets are customized to be three feet high instead of four. Additionally, players must complete one pass before scoring.
  • Alpine skiing consists of four disciplines: downhill, slalom, giant slalom, and super-G. Work with your local mountain’s adaptive ski program to help provide the needed adaptations for new and advanced skiers. 
  • Blind Soccer is played with a ball that contains bells, kickboards (panels) to provide physical boundaries of the playing area, four players, and one goalkeeper. 
  • Goalball is a sport for athletes who are blind or have low vision. It is played on a court with goals (nets) covering the width of the back-line on either end. Teams of three athletes from two teams compete to roll the ball past opponents and into the net to score a goal.

Arts and Crafts

Art is another hobby that can be adapted for children who are blind or have low vision. Using a variety of textures and materials, blind or low vision children can create tactile art pieces that they can explore and enjoy. Some children may also enjoy sculpting or working with clay, providing a fun and tactile way to express their creativity.

Explore arts and crafts:

  • Consider the following adaptations for the craft area: task lighting, light/dark contrast for the tray and project, magnifier, creating boundaries with a lipped tray, smaller containers for smaller parts, ruler in large print or braille, and containers to organize materials or unfinished projects. 
  • Try crafts that need little to no accommodations, such as origami.
  • Try raised lines for coloring and use scented markers or pens.
  • Use Puffy Paint with glue and shaving cream.
  • Weave, knit, or crochet with different textured yarn.

Reading, Writing, and Journaling

Reading, writing, and journaling can be a great way to explore creativity and allow your child to experience the stories of others. A good book can allow you to journey to the sea, be part of farm life, learn about something new, and so much more. Writing and journaling can allow your child to express themselves, be creative, and express emotions. 

Explore Ideas for Reading, Writing, and Journaling:

  • Enjoy a braille book or large print book.
  • Listen to an audible book.
  • Record your own story.
  • Use a braille writer or technology to type your thoughts or ideas before writing your story.
  • Use bold-lined paper and bright-colored markers to journal.
  • Use scented stickers and tactile markers to add to your journal.

Gaming/ Technology

Gaming and tech hobbies allow your child to connect with friends and classmates outside school. Working with others to complete a task online encourages teamwork and problem-solving skills. Some games or tech hobbies will further your child’s creativity and be a great way to express themselves. Podcasting is another tech hobby that can support your child’s growth in confidence and social skills and allow them to learn marketing, editing, and publishing skills. Vlogging may be another interest as many people share their experiences through social media platforms. 

Explore Gaming or Tech Hobbies:

  • Explore Able Gamers (https://ablegamers.org/).
  • Explore Gamers Outreach (https://gamersoutreach.org/).
  • Explore Girls Who Code (https://girlswhocode.com/).
  • Explore the following vloggers or social media influencers: Lucy Edwards (British YouTuber who is blind), Mike Mulligan (Blind on the Move), Toby (BlindTobes), John Furniss (The Blind Woodsman), Justin Bishop (Justin The Bishop blind skater), Anthony S. Farerro (ASFVision), Sadaya Paige (ForeverSadayaPaige), Ash Dunford (OurBlindSide).

Building and Constructing 

Building and constructing allow your child to work with their hands, explore different textures, work on spatial awareness, problem-solve, develop determination skills, and gain a sense of accomplishment. Working on projects allows creativity and exploring different tools while developing Independent Living Skills, such as learning to hang photos or build shelves or other furniture.  

Explore Building and Constructing:

  • Start with playing with Lego or Lincoln log sets.
  • Find out if your local Community Center has workshops for building.
  • Try a Home Depot Kid Workshop the first Saturday of every month from 9-12 (check with your local store).
  • Visit a Hands-on Museum that offers exhibits for building and construction.
  • Libraries may offer STEM opportunities.

Acting and Theatre

Participating in acting or theater is a great way to support communication skills, confidence, creativity, teamwork, and experience different cultures or periods. Acting provides an opportunity to work on verbal and nonverbal communication. Understanding different ways to convey meaning, body language, and emotions can support the Social Interactions skills from the Expanded Core Curriculum. Through practice and performance, your child will learn to take risks and step outside their comfort zones to further build self-confidence. A performance takes teamwork from all actors, set crew, and technical crew. Working with the many performers and crew members will allow your child to practice and develop teamwork skills. Theaters perform on a variety of themes, cultures, and periods. Exposure to various cultures and periods will help develop empathy and understanding for people who are different from them. 

Explore Ideas for Acting and Theatre:

  • Lighting and the possible need for sunglasses when your child is light-sensitive should be considered. 
  • Consider providing high-contrast markings for the floor and edge of stages. 
  • Work with the lighting and sound crew to adapt the equipment for your child to understand the equipment. 
  • Provide large print or braille scripts.

Remember that every child is unique, and the hobbies and activities that work best for one child may not be the same for another. By providing various options and allowing your child to explore and discover their interests, you can help them find hobbies and activities they can enjoy and excel at. Exploring and finding ways to adapt hobbies to your child’s needs takes time. Talk with your TVI, O&M Specialist, and other team members to brainstorm additional considerations for exploring specific hobbies. Your child should have access to activities and pastimes that can provide a lifetime of enjoyment.

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