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Making Your Own

Elastic Board

Dr. Nielsen designed various "perceptualizing aids" or equipment to facilitate activity in individuals with multiple disabilities.  A key factor in the development of these aides was to allow the learner to be an active participant when positioned in supine (on back), prone (on stomach), in sitting, or standing.  Each piece of equipment was put through a rigorous testing and design process to achieve the optimum learning environment for the individual with special needs.  Factors such as maximum responsiveness, safety, air-flow, and vibratory qualities were considered. It is recommended that only authentic Active Learning equipment be utilized.  The authorized dealer in the United States is LilliWorks (  You can find a list of this equipment on the Active Learning Space website:  Things You Should Buy.

Dr. Nielsen also developed or approved of some perceptualizing aides or equipment that can be hand made by professionals, caregivers, parents, and volunteers.  Plans that can be downloaded from the Active Learning Space site under the Equipment dropdown menu:  Things You Can Make

Elastic Boards

Elastic boards can have items strung vertically or horizontally, as shown in the examples below.
                        Elastic Board
Elastic board with horizontal string
Caution must be used to determine appropriate items to be attached to the board. Do not use any items that pose a choking hazard, that are easily broken, or that have sharp edges. The builder is responsible for the safety of the child using the equipment.

The items placed on a board are determined by the developmental level of the child or children to play with the board.  Evaluate items for sensory characteristics – visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, and taste.  Evaluate an item for the skill needed to manipulate it – pushing, batting, grasping, pulling, scratching, taking apart, putting together, etc. Ensure that items can be compared to others of size, weight, shape, etc.

A board that requires skills that are too developmental high or too low for a child will not promote active learning, and may result in limited or stereotypical activity or no activity at all.
A boy plays a metal drum.
Watch this video that shows the importance of banging games. You'll see a boy who is introduced to a new drum for the first time and he uses banging activities to learn about the auditory property of the drum. Observe the extension of his wrist and fingers. Banging the drum is important to build muscle strength for him, whose tone is influenced by spasticity.

Join Our Next Study Group Webinar!

The purpose of the Study Group this year will be to share case studies and discuss implementation of an Active Learning approach. Using student video and planning documents, participants will collaborate to design effective and meaningful instruction using active learning strategies. Each session will require one volunteer to share information and video of one of their students. These videos will NOT be posted online and will only be viewed during the live sessions with a closed group. The sessions will be from 3pm-4pm Central Time on 09/24/19, 11/19/19, 1/21/20, and 3/24/20. Interested parties are not required to participate in all four meetings, but it is encouraged. Drop-ins are also welcome!       

Register now

4:00-5:00 EDT
3:00-4:00 CDT
2:00-3:00 MDT
1:00-2:00 PDT
Webinar slide: Active Learning Study Group on Functional Scheme
Did you know that you can watch past webinars that have been recorded and archived on the Active Learning Space site?  See the list of past webinars and find out how you can get credit for delayed viewing!

Upcoming Training Events

Nov. 11-12:  Patty Obrzut, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA
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Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Perkins School for the Blind
Penrickton Center for Blind Children

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Perkins School for the Blind · 175 N. Beacon Street · Watertown, MA 02472 · USA

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