Fun For All During the Holidays

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Don't let vision loss keep you from enjoying the holidays (or anytime) with your grandchildren!

The holidays offer a special and important opportunity to spend time with your grandchildren or other children in your family. You may think that with visual impairment this is no longer possible. But that's not true! Keep on reading.

Games and Activities to Try

  • Mancala: It’s a game that you can play with your children or grandchildren that doesn’t require the use of print or braille. It’s a very tactile game with colorful stones and indentations that you use to score a win. No cards to read, no timer, no board to move little pieces on. It is available through Amazon and other online stores.
  • For small children, including kids with visual impairments, Trader Joe’s makes alphabet-shaped cookies in a large container called Schoolhouse cookies. They are dusted with cinnamon sugar. I can imagine playing word games and then eating them. You could call it "Eat Your Words." Ha! Ha! My grandchildren are too old for that now. If you don't live near a Trader Joe's, order some alphabet cutters and make your own holiday cookies!
  • There are several versions of the Simon game that I like to play with my grandchildren. It can be done with no vision.
  • Here are some additional board and card game suggestions.

Linda Fugate, another peer advisor, has some ideas to add to this list.

Snowman by GutMaze (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
  • I have had a lot of fun making a snowman with the kids. They rolled the balls, we stacked them, and then added arms, face, etc. It was easy to do the face by touch (and I have not made a snowman in 20 years!)
  • We also made rice krispie treats, another wonderfully tactile activity.
  • I taught Annabelle, who is six, to make snowflakes by cutting paper and then we made some with straws and tin foil. These are best with paper straws if you can find them, but plastic will work. Just roll several straws in tin foil (about 5 per flake) and then gather them in a bundle and tie in the middle with thread, pull it tight to make the center bend. These reflect lights nicely.
  • I have a few more ideas in my post Rewards of Grandparenting with Vision Loss.

Holiday Fun in General

VisionAware has a great section on getting ready for and enjoying the holidays.

Also, VisionAware has suggestions for traveling during the holidays, including packing, traveling, and enjoying the holidays with your dog guide.

Make Time to Dream a Little About Your Own Wish List

VisionAware has a gift guide, and the peer advisors have come up with their own suggestions. I sat down and did a little extra dreaming on my own.

Linda's Wish List

  • A chiming clock: This is on my personal wish list. It can be something as inexpensive as a talking clock that announces the time each hour to a beautiful chime (my wish) to one that has bird songs at the top of each hour. I would also like an accessible clock radio.
  • Braille Scrabble Dictionary: There are braille Scrabble games out there, but they are a very poor quality compared to the original one, which is not produced anymore. If you can find an original one on eBay, you have really scored.
  • The Speak To Me catalog is full of gift ideas. They have talking everything.
  • Gift card to any of the catalogs that sell things for visually impaired people, such as Blind Mice Mart.
  • Really nice travel radio: one that will not take up too much room in your suitcase
  • Accessible Clock radio: One that a person who is visually impaired can set independently.
  • A subscription to Sirius Radio.
  • A Talking Bible: Make sure it is accessible with actual buttons you can feel.
  • Novelty Doormat. I have one that says "Dora makes our house a home." It has a picture of a yellow lab.
  • Framed picture of the person’s guide dog.
  • Throw for the sofa that has a dog pattern.
  • An intercom system is a very useful, safety-conscious gift for people to have. With it, a person who is blind or visually impaired can find out who is at the door before they answer it.
  • And last but not least, Brailled chocolate bars
  • But more than chocolate or anything else, the gift of time is the absolute best. Commit to taking your friend or family member out to run errands, go shopping, or to the movies once a month.

Personal Reflections
There are currently 3 comments

Re: Fun For All During the Holidays

Our family likes to play a game called Encore It does have pieces that are moved around a board and cards to be read similar to Trivial Pursuit, but the game requires players to sing at least six words of songs. Even the small folk can play singing songs from the movies and grand parents can sing hymns or forties popular tunes. Bop-It is a mechanical version of simon says that the toy tells you what you have to do. It can be played as an elimination type game. Making things together is also fun. My family has done tamalies together cookies and easy Christmas decorations or gifts for friends are fun too.

Re: Fun For All During the Holidays

Mary, here in Australia we are going into summer for our festive season and one creative idea to share with young ones is to show them how to plant green bean seeds or other quick growing seeds into old gum boots, filled up with potting mix and a cut made in the sole for drainage or other fun objects that would normally be thrown away, can be recycled to use as novel pot plant holders...for outside, of course!
With my grandkiddies, we like to make lots of interesting food shapes with playdough and it gives me a lovely sense of being involved as it is a truly tactile activity.

Re: Fun For All During the Holidays

Our family loves to play games and we always bought a new game every year to play on Christmas Day. As I lost more vision, it was becoming difficult to play many of our family games. I have a fond memory of my youngest son taking the time to make a board game accessible for me by using black and white paper. He wanted to make sure mom could enjoy the game too. It worked and I was very touched by his thoughtfulness and ingenuity.Many games can be made accessible by changing the game pieces or changing the way it is played so the viually impaird can be included. I think another nice idea for fun with children at Christmas time is to order some of the classic Christmas stories for children from Talking Books and listening to them together. In our family, we have another tradition where we give gifts that are "experiences" rather than a "thing". going to special concerts and light displays, teaching your daughter-in-law the favorite family recipe for making Christmas Morning Orange Rolls...indeed, the gift of time! May your time with family and friends be full of love, peace and joy!

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