How do you know spring is coming?
Passover and the spring season are taken for granted by most of us. But for those who cannot see the Seder table and the spring blossom, a special acquaintance with them is required. Tips and tricks for preparing for Passover and Spring for children in general and for children with visual impairments and blindness in particular.
Passover and the preoccupation with spring and the flowering around provide a wonderful opportunity for a multi-sensory experience for children. This experience is intensified and even more significant when it comes to children dealing with a particular sensory disability, such as children with visual impairments or blindness. The sounds and sensations of the holiday, and the blossoming scents that spring brings with it, produce experiential learning that allows children to prepare and become well acquainted with the changing world around them.
The process of development and learning of the environment is first and foremost visual. Therefore, challenges related to vision, learning the environment, the changes that take place in it and how it should be conducted are more complex for these children, especially when some have difficulty seeing, or do not see at all, the spring blossom, matzah, nuts or Passover Haggadah. It is more challenging for them to understand what the spring holiday is and how it should be conducted.
However, the beauty of the spring holiday (and also of its flowering) provides us with a multi-sensory experience, which allows children to learn about it and its characteristics even without seeing the flower bloom and the seder table. All learning and discourse is important to mediate in an accessible and pleasant way – to prepare the children for what they are about to hear, smell and feel, so that they can experience Passover and spring gradually and in a non-threatening way.
In order to illustrate the issue for children in general and children with visual impairment / blindness in particular, one of the main tools that can be used is the sense of touch, through which they can be helped to simulate for example how heavy the building blocks of the pyramids were carried by Israelis on their backs. For this purpose, I make a sack and put heavy things in it that the children feel and try to lift. Next, we build pyramids from cubes and eventually dismantle them. Also, to explain that in order we are all bran for the table, we draw on expectations of pillows and later fill them together, so that it is comfortable to sit at the order table.
Similarly, so that children with visual impairments / blindness can understand the holiday, we give them for example six matzahs and break them. We put nuts in a large bag, so that in an experiential way they will learn that there is no danger in touching something unfamiliar that cannot be seen. Of course, we accompany all this by listening to the holiday songs. Music is a wonderful tool for children in general and not just those who face some sensory limitations. There are many songs that deal with Passover and spring through which one can learn about the characteristics of the holiday and the season. When using songs, it is important to be repetitive, to allow children to learn, internalize, practice and of course enjoy the song and its content. This is an effective way for all children of all ages, but it is important to remember that when it comes to children with visual impairment or blindness the content and experience should be adjusted to their level. In addition, during the experience it is important to try to talk and dub the children to tell how they feel and how they experience the familiarity with the new experiences.
When it comes to spring blooms, to create a multi-sensory experience, each child can make a large three-dimensional flower so that he can feel the petals, stem and leaves. Perfume is sprayed on the flowers so that the children can realize that in the spring the flowers are blooming and it is worth smelling them. Since real butterflies cannot be felt, large butterflies can be created and glued to the sleeve so that they move when a child moves his hand.
The spring weather and the approaching Passover spirit provide us with an endless variety of content and ideas that allow for fun and enriching learning, from flavors and aromas to materials to create. All of these can be done in the garden together, or with the family at home. The variety that winter and the holiday provide us can suffice right up until Independence Day which is already just around the corner.
The author is Zohar Farhi, a kindergarten teacher at Elia Kindergarten in Jerusalem, an association that specializes in treating infants, toddlers and children with blindness or visual impairments.
Source: Maariv.co.il – סגנון-לייף סטייל by www.maariv.co.il.
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