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Discovery Workshops

Within a workshop series children are tought by using a child book to gain experiences of their environment.



Through 5 workshops of two hours each, the children, ageing from 4 and half to 6 years old could make varied and complementary perceptive experiments, by haptic exploration in natural size, and/or out of model or miniature of objects and elements quoted in the story, they benefited from a teaching support from adults to comment on these perceptions, to connect them between each other.


Around the story called L’écharpe de Polochon, © Bayard Éditions : they could discover the shape and the texturec of the animals quoted in the history by tactile exploration of very realistic cuddly toys, rabbit, squirrel, bear, exploration of representations of birds natural size, polystyrene and feathers + sleeping bag, explorations always supported by the language and with accompanying notes.


They could touch, explore, demolish a faggot of small branches, understand what it is and for what that is used, to reconstitute it. The children could touch, explore, handle, smell logs of different woods, to reconstitute the wood heap under which are hidden the animals while also working on the concept of “hidden”, they could make a fire (in the court, under high monitoring of course, with a proportion of one adult per child and in the presence of a safety agent), they thus could crease the newspaper, break the small branches, put pine cones, gather the elements in the hearth, listen to the noise of the matches, listen to the sounds of the various stages of growth of fire, smell the odors, to feel heat…).


  Buchseite-Titelseite The children could discover a hood in wicker (especially manufactured with the size of the children by the workshop of basket making of the institute), to test it, to fill it, walk with, to understand the function of it; to listen and distinguish on CD the cries from animals and songs from birds, etc…


A long part of the first meeting was devoted to discover a cuddly toy of a bear which represented the main character, equipped with a scarf and a coat especially made to enrich this exploration. The colors of each element of the coat were selected to stimulate the visual potential preserved by the children.



For certain elements of the trunk, in particular when they are expensive, we have worked with one single element, child after child. However it is necessary that certain elements are available in as many specimens as children, because exploratory handling requires much time from them and it is sometimes tiring and testing to wait for its turn when one does not see and cannot thus benefit from the observation from what occurs around himself/herself.


The children could through these workshops gradually enrich their concepts and thus enter a greater appropriation of the language.



Workshop n° 1 : the story and the main character




To evaluate quickly some « starting points »: where are books read? What is an album? Did you already handle a tactile book, a book in Braille?

To create the group, to support the interactions.

To memorize a story, to express themselves orally to support the appropriation of the story and the cohesion of the group.

To discover the main character, the bear Polochon, to identify it in the richest possible way: sensory and linguistic exploration.


Progress of the workshop:

1 Reception of the children, toilet break, installation of the group.

(10 minutes) total duration: 10 min


2 Presentation of the children, room discovery if necessary.

(10 minutes) total duration: 20 min


3 Reading of the story, without particular explanation, to let develop the context and the musical quality of the story  

(5 minutes) total duration: 25 min


4 Spontaneous expression after the discovery of the story:

  Buchseite-Polochon läuft los The story is often explained in bond with the own experience of each child. This time, to start the workshop, it is necessary to know every child. One can put some questions for better evaluating which is the place of the books and reading to make it a bond between the reading and the everyday life of the children: are there books at home, in their class, do they go to the library?


In this phase of general comprehension of the story, one can approach the topic of “cold”. The exchanges between the children approach it rather spontaneously: cold, snow, and freezing. What do the words “freezing” and “snow” represent for the children? According to the climates and circumstances, the experiment and the representations of snow are variable. When the children were in contact with snow, it was an outstanding experiment, often related to play activities. The concept of freezing is less obvious, the fact that when the weather is cold, water becomes solid and freezes : one can easily make touch food ice floes to evoke this reality. (25minutes)

total duration : 50 min


5 Snack break / fruit juice (15 minutes) total duration: 1 hour 5 min

  Polochon mit Tieren

6 Second reading of the text, to centre the attention (5 minutes) total duration : 1 hour 10 min


7 Presentation of the main character : Polochon.

Polochon is a bear, what the text does not specify: information is given by the illustration. It seemed important to us to say it from the start to the children.

The trunk contains a teddy bear, 50 height centimetres, dressed like Polochon with a coat to its size, with large buttons, which one can button and peel off, with large pockets. Polochon is wearing a scarf. Each child can touch the bear; the tactile and haptic exploration of the bear is possible: it makes it possible to approach the body diagram and to explain some words, by connecting them to this active exploration: the muzzle, bearings, ears (and their particular shape). The circulation of the cuddly toy, its tactile exploration by the children who wish it seeks to support the synthesis of the remarks, to arrive to a fast recapitulation on Polochon, character of story. (40 minutes) total duration: 1 hour 50 min



8 Preparation for departure (10 minutes) total duration: 2 hours






Workshop n° 2: heat and cold




To be able to memorize a story and to restore it orally.

To make progressive restitution by the way of collective “repetitions” formulations/reformulations).

To strengthen the representations by motor and sensory activities in connection with a concept present in the story: fire.

To support competence with language: lexical exploration on the concepts of heat and cold, discovering and comprehension



Progress of the workshop:

1 Reception of the children, toilet break, installation of the group. (10 minutes) total duration : 10 min


2 Collective reconstitution of the story: each child expresses himself: some questions can help, to recall temporal unfolding and the stages of the narrative diagram. Some exchanges, in the form of “repetitions” are carried out to evaluate the general comprehension of the story and to make sure of its appropriation by each child. (15minutes) total duration : 25 min


3 Reading of the story. (5 min) total duration: 30 min


4 Language, expression, representations

  Buch-Polochon mit rotem Schal How to protect yourself from the cold, when you are outside?

Ask the children to name various clothing which can be used to protect themselves from the cold: gloves, bonnet, scarf, pulley blocks, mittens, filled boots, anorak, coat, sweater…


How to protect yourself from the cold, when you are inside?

To the question put by the adult the children will often indicate the central heating or of the electric radiators or a stove. How can one still make? How did Polochon do to heat itself? (one can note that the word chimney is not in the text, it is to be deduced from the wood search by Polochon)


  Buchseite-Kamin How is fire made?

Lexical exploration and set of themes: wood, logs, sticks, brushwood, needles pine, pine cones, newspaper, faggot…

Clarification of the word faggot and the word bundle of firewood. The discovery of the word faggot and its diminutive bundle of firewood is important: the faggot bundle of firewood plays a determining part in the story.

Tactile exploration: the trunk contains miniature bundles of firewood, small sticks bound by a wire. Handling of these miniature bundles of firewood which are held in the hand and allow a total perception of the object.

Motor activity: directed realization of a faggot, with normal size. To disentangle the branches, to assemble them, make a heap of them. Each child makes the experiment to tie the heap of branches with a string

Manipulation of logs, make hold, etc upright… and discovered: cut, texture, odors… discovered bark which covers wood. (30 min) total duration: 1 hour


5 Snack break (15 minutes) total duration: 1 hour 15 min


6 To light a fire (outside)

This activity, very advantageous and which motivates the children, requires a certain number of conditions, to be carried out in full safety. It requires the agreement of the direction of the establishment in which the workshop is held, a place outdoor which makes it possible to make fire in a small barbecue, a sufficient number of adults to frame the children, and the provision of an extinguisher within reach.


Motor activities :

- to break a branch, helped of an adult, with the hands or blocking it with the foot.

- to prepare fire together: crease the newspaper, to have a brushwood or the pine needles, to add the broken branches. An adult lights the fire.


Sensory activities:

To listen to the noises, to smell the odors, to feel heat.


Linguistic activities:

Vocabulary: one names words about the fire, the noises ..

(35 min)

total duration : 1 hour 50 min


* If the activity is impossible to carry out concretely, CD with a sound scenario of the preparation of a fire can be used


7 Return in the room : Preparation for departure (10 minutes) total duration : 2 hours.




Workshop n° 3 : the animals in the story



  Buchseite Tiere




To evaluate what was remembered from the previous workshop.

To enrich the lexicon, to bind the words and the things, by a tactile and functional discovery of Polochon’s hood

To make discover the animals of the story: the sparrow, the rabbit, the squirrel: tactile discovery in connection with the lexicon

To reinforce the lexical discovery by motor activities, in connection with the motions of the animals.

To propose a fine and discriminative listening of the cries and noises of the animals



Progress of the workshop:

1 Reception of the children, toilet break, installation of the group. (10 min) total duration: 10 min


2 The children have to explain what was made in the previous workshop. (10 min) total duration : 20 min


3 Reading of the story.

The children are seated around the person who reads. This one uses the book in Braille and big letters, turning the pages with the wire of its reading, the book directed towards the children. It acts of a first abstract discovery, a setting in the presence of the object delivery and of its contents which are thus proposed. (5 min) total duration: 25 min  


4 Polochon’s hood :

  Buch-Polochon läuft We ask the children if they know the word “hood”. In general, they spontaneously associate the word hood with the name Santa Claus. However, this bringing together does not imply an exact knowledge of the significance of the word. The small wicker hood in the trunk is used for an individual exploration. The children touch it and put it on their back, helped by an adult by using the two belts like when one endorses a back bag. They can possibly fill it of some wood logs, like Polochon.

(10 min) total duration: 35 min



5 To recognize the animals present in the story:

The reproductions which are in the trunk were selected for their realism and the preoccupation with a quality which prevailed during their manufacturing. The children devote themselves to a tactile exploration; it can be accompanied by some advice, to undertake this activity according to an order and to make it more productive. Rabbits and squirrel allow the identification of parts of the body: muzzle, eyes, ears, belly, back, legs: one observes and one connects to the suitable words the short tail of rabbit, the tail in plume of the squirrel. One evokes also the fur, peeling, in opposition to the feathers of the birds. The reproduced birds give place to the same exploration and consolidation of the language: the eye, the nozzle, the feathers, wings - and their various deployed or folded up positions, legs, the tail. (30 minutes) total duration : 1 hour 5 min


6 Snack break (15 min) total duration: 1 hour 20 min  


7 Phase of motor activity: imitate the movements of animals in the story

The children, guided by adults, imitate the bear that walks on all fours. They can also jump like a rabbit squatting. The hopping of the bird is raised, then it is proposed to imitate the flapping wings, moving first wrists and shoulders and arms fully stirring. Children then play to jump like a rabbi,t must crouch, lay hands on the floor and jump feet closer to the hands. Then it is proposed to the children to imitate a squirrel clinging to the bark of the tree. A cardboard cylinder is placed in the room and children crouch jumping to turn around, imitating the sound of fingernails claws of squirrels.

(20 min) total duration: 1 hour 40 min


8 Hear the cries of animals and animal sounds in the form of riddles sound

The cries of animals and some of their noise characteristics were recorded: one must guess and name the bear's growl, the chirping of the sparrows, the sound of rabbits nibbling a carrot or between cries the squirrel.

(10 min) total duration: 1 hour 50 min


9 Preparation for departure: (10 min) total duration: 2 hours.


Workshop n°4 : book and motor activities

(unraveling, move along a wire)



- Publicize the book as object, that is to say,

- give ideas of his organization

- discover, if possible, different modes of writing: Braille and large print

- discover -if possible- the illustrations in relief, tactile book as specific support. - strengthen the representations of a concept (knitting, unraveling) by motor activities.

- work-around notions of space and movement



Progress of the workshop:


1 Reception of the children, toilet break, installation of the group. (10 min) total duration : 10 min


  Buchseite-Polochon läuft weiter 2 Discovery of the book as an object.

Ideally, each child handles one copy with the text in Braille and / or large prints, and illustrations in relief. If this prototype is not available, we can more easily be adapted version of Braille and large prints.

The interest is to introduce children to the general organization of a book. A stop on the front page coverage will present the concepts of title, cover, copyright. We may consider aloud reading by adults, punctuated by turning the pages for children. This time around the object can be an opportunity to discuss the craft as a writer, author. It may be favorable to explain an important aspect of reading: it can pause and resume it at will, when we have a book.

(15 minutes) total duration : 25 min


3 Set representations, practicing a motor activity

The concept of knitting (knitting activity) is rather vague in the minds of children. When asked to explain what knitting is, they often equate it to a manual without clearly distinguishable from the seam, for example. The fact that the Polochon’s knitted scarf flakes gradually is essential to the narrative unfolding and its solving. It seemed productive to look active and playful this notion.

We may first ask the children, at the end of workshop 3, to provide a knitted scarf for workshop 4. If you forget the instructions, scarves will be provided in the trunk. A haptic exploration to discover the quality, the texture of different wools, and for visually impaired children the range of tones gathered in this small corpus.

It then discusses the concept of "unraveling." Each child receives a wooden plank on which we set a sample of unfinished knitting: the strand of wool terminal is free, the top of the sample is fairly well established . It begins with a tactile exploration of form and mesh the proposed activity is to maintain a hand sample in place on the board while on the other hand, you pull the strand of wool to unmake stitches and knitting. We see how the sweater unravels. It is so tangible that knitting is decreasing while the thread lengthens. After the wool has been sufficiently unwound, children make a small pad, so we must now wind the wire on one hand with his other hand and this activity requires fine motor coordination and attention.

(25 minutes) total duration : 50 min


4 Snack break. (15 minutes) total duration : 1 hour 5 min


5 Moving, on a route, specify concepts such as above, below, beside ….

  Buchseite-Haus  The activity takes place in two stages.

A route has been represented in the room with a path of climbing rope attached to the ground. The device prepared before the start of the workshop includes a canvas cabin; at this place, a climbing rope, set on the ground, embodies the "path" of Polochon to woodpile. To figure it, there is a pile of logs, which are hidden animals. Without shoes, the children follow the climbing rope, one after the other, and gather around the wood pile. The discovery of collective plush hidden under logs can reinvest the vocabulary of animals raised in the previous workshop and enables spatial concepts: above, below, beside them, coincides with a playful manipulation of animals.


Second time :

Children are guided along a wire with their hands. (The goal is to help them understand Polochon’s retur to home, thanks to the wire that is his unraveled scarf)

We ask each child to hold the end of a rope climbing and guiding himself back with his hands. The other end can be held by another silent child, the child will recognize explorer or may be connected to a particular object that the child should be appointed

(45 minutes) total duration : 1 hour 50 min


6 Preparation for departure (10 minutes) total duration : 2 hours


Workshop n°5 : summary


A last sequence of summary (of about one hour and a half) seems desirable, in order to close to the workshops.


1 handing-out of books and CDs to children

Each workshop participant receives a CD and a book, perhaps illustrated in a version adapted to his vision: Braille or large prints (NB for a version with tactile illustrations, it is necessary to return the books to the parents, not to the children).

It must indeed draw the vigilance of parents on the fragility of the support and the fact that every album can create a risk to young children, that could pull one of the figurines and swallow it. The presence of adults is recommended. They are not suitable for children under 36 months.

The transcriptions also include a Braille sheet with black text for parents. History is read from the CD first with the support of a sound atmosphere (music, sound effects) and then read again with an indication on when to turn the page in the book.



2 workshop recording :

  Buchseite-Polochon läuft los The educational kit "L’écharpe de Pelochon" has been designed, we have seen in the context of an action / research.

The discovery activities conducted during the workshops with the children, attracted attention from researchers, who believe that they have much to learn about the process of language acquisition and representation by blind children or strongly visually impaired.

It gives them an object and a way of research that can bring elements, enrich the professional practices.

It is therefore very beneficial to organize a "mini Radiophonic Workshop" at the end of sessions, fun activity for children and real analyzable collection for researchers.

The activity lasts from 30 to 35 minutes (6-7 minutes per child). It entails having a small reliable recording material (audio, computer). The facilitator asks each child individually, to tell the story spontaneously, as he remembers it, and then to listen to this recording to other students in his class, family, …

Each child is recorded (after a short technical test) in the best possible conditions. He can then explain quickly what he has preferred in workshops, and then the "interviewee" can listen to himself.

It is important that the recording is done individually, the other kids are busy with another activity during the course of these recordings: this keeps each version to its authenticity, avoids the influences and imitations and preserves each child’s own imagination.


3 little stage production :

We can also arrange a stage production of the story: it may be an opportunity to invite parents and families to better discover the reality of workshops, to be the starting point of a moment of encounter and exchange.

It is obvious that this stage production, guided by adults, does not reflect the essential work on language, but it allows children to return in live and interactive key actions, the storyline, and remembering tactile explorations and manipulations that have been made.