University of Edinburgh

Early Years: Working with visually impaired children

Presented on Wednesday 2 December 2009

Be Active Box workshop

Lorna Hall

Why Use the Be Active Box?

  • Safe, secure environment in busy situation.
  • Unchanging environment.
  • Stimulates movement
  • Allows independent play

Notes: In a busy nursery with active children
Here's a rattle, I liked that, oh it's gone!
Learning at child's own rate - with no interference


  • Which hand?
  • What movement - exploratory, banging, pushing?
  • Favourite material/object?
  • Which hole was it in?
  • Were 2 hands used together at any time?

Notes: Sometimes this isn't difficult to assess as the child will only play with one item! The holes don't change - they can be numbered to be precise about position.


  • Are feet used?
  • Singly or together?
  • Exploratory, banging, sliding?
  • Favourite material/object.
  • Shoes on or off?

Notes: Adults don't always notice that children explore with more than just their feet. They may use another part of their body. Note this.

More Questions

  • Does auditory feedback influence choice of material?
  • Does auditory feedback influence response?
  • Is there any change in child's behaviour during/after session in box?
  • Is child more vocal while in box?
  • Does he show any strong dislike of any material?

Notes: Does child respond only/better to noisy toys?

Feedback from Materials

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Tactile

Notes: Visual - colours, reflected light, battery light, fibre optics, chasing lights. This will become a dark area during the day, to help with perception of lights.
Auditory - papers, rattles (spoons measuring cups), bells, sound producing toys, switch activated toys, communication aids, eg; Big Mack.
Tactile - may only be materials on walls and floor for child who is not yet exploring much.

Move On

  • Move favourite material
    -to encourage exploration
    -to encourage use of other hand/both hands
    -to introduce new materials
  • Introduce materials which encourage new movements

Notes: Move material slightly in any direction, perhaps still within touch. Ask parents/staff for suggestions too. Lilli Nielsen's book "Space & Self" has many ideas which she is suggesting for "The Little Room"


  • Observe regularly
  • Observe systematically
  • Use observations to change environment
  • Don't allow child to become bored.
  • Use Be Active Box as a learning situation - not as a babysitter.

Notes: Involve all adults in the observation. Record where all materials were at time of observation - make a proforma plan to plot them.