Children, at all ages, all have different needs for learning; this is especially true for children with disabilities. Blind and visually impaired students learn best in a teaching environment that accommodates them, so teachers should find educational tools and material that’s suited towards them. Tactile mazes are a good way to engage younger students, blind and otherwise, in a novel way.
What are Tactile Mazes?
Tactile mazes, also called “pathfinder cards” in index card form, are mazes designed to be solved by tracing the path with your fingertips, rather than by using a pen or pencil. Instead of lines and paths drawn on paper or index cards, the mazes are composed of raised or engraved dots, grooves and other patterns. The player relies on their sense of touch to navigate, not unlike how one would read Braille by feeling out the patterns of dots that make up the letters. You’ll find tactile mazes for sale in the form of small booklets or index cards made of a stiff paper or plastic that holds the engraved shape effectively.
Our tactile senses are a way of engaging with the world that is not always addressed in learning environments. For blind students, it’s especially critical in the absence of sight. Tactile mazes provide a method of educational play that tests problem-solving and spatial reasoning skills through the sense of touch. In sighted children, this can bolster their capability to engage with such problems in novel ways; for students with vision impairments, this ties into teaching vital skills such as reading Braille. Both require the ability to perceive geometric forms as conveyed through tactile patterns and discern how they’re related to each other; thus, tactile mazes are a powerful tool for young students learning to read Braille.
Combined with other forms of tactile learning, tactile mazes are a valuable tool for teachers with young, visually impaired students.