Discovering the world with "Jella Schnipp Schnapp"

Ideas for parents of blind and partially sighted children

The ideas were developed for a seminar with parents and children in Würzburg, Germany, July 13-17, 2012.

Organized by the Blindeninstitut Wûrzburg and the Deutscher Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband in the scope of EVEIL project.

Authors: Marina von Thüngen and Reiner Delgado


Based on the example of the book JELLA SCHNIPP SCHNAPP by Rosemarie Künzler-Behncke we demonstrate, how you can use a children's book in order to promote
your child's development in many ways.
JELLA SCHNIPP SCHNAPP is just an example that wants to show you the many possibilities of such a book.

You can take the following three steps:

1. Analysis of the book

Which contents of the book are interesting to be worked on with a blind or visually impaired child?

2. Analysis of the child

Which of the contents, that you have found at step 1, your child does already know and do not need to be explained further more?

Which of the contents does your child probably not yet know correctly?

Supporting questions are:

  • Can your child really imagine what is written?
  • Does your child know all the activities mentioned in the book, e.g. cutting, climbing a tree, baking bread, starting a fire?
  • Can your child imagine all the occurrences, especially those ones dealing with seeing? E.g. to hide, terms like in front of, behind, above, over, under,
    right, left.

You can also find tips on how to learn new terms (conceptualisation) hier.

3. Plan activities in order to work with your child on the book

We suggest the following three options:

  • activities in order to "relive" the occurrences, to bring the book to life, e.g. going into the woods, making a boat trip, cutting something into pieces...
  • getting to know real objects, e.g. different kinds of svissors, cars, diggers, bulldozers, animals, plants...
  • what cannot originally be explored and investigated, can probably be touched and explained as models like e.g. plush or plastic animals, toy cars, models made of building blocks/toy bricks ...

Of course you cannot work on all these subjects at a time or one immediately after the other.

Concentrate on those things your child and you are excited and interested in and what you both like. Later on you can still decide to do others.

You can also complement the book together with your child.

For our parents seminar we therefore had:

  • copied the double-page spreads to a smaller formate
  • strengthened lines and contrasts (for visually impaired children)
  • laminated the sheets and filed them crosswise in a folder
  • then glued haptic elements on the pages or created totally new pages to touch and play with


Elements of the book JELLA SCHNIPP SCHNAPP

Content of the book:

When Jella keeps quiet, she always has something special in mind, namely with her scissors. Every day her mom and dad ask her: "Jella, what are you doing?"
On Mondays she cuts curtains into strips (snip snap)

on Tuesdays she cuts pictures out of books,

on Wednesdays fringes from carpets,

on Thursdays she cuts the dog's hair

on Fridays she does the flower care

and on Saturdays she must dress her stuffed animal's wounds, any idea why? Dad and Mom always
cry: "Stop it!"

On Sundays Jella does not do anything special but just makes noise, namely with a drum, jumping on her parents' bed where they want to

1. Weekdays

At preschool age children can already develop a comprehension for the sequence of the weekdays. You can support that with JELLA SCHNIPP SCHNAPP:

  • recite the weekdays (probably even backwards)
  • "Which weekday comes before Wednesday?" or  " ... after Thursday?"
  • "What does Jella do on ...?" Monday is curtains day.
  • comparison with other books, e.g. in RAUPE NIMMERSATT Monday is apple day

2. Jella - Body Scheme

  • Make a little Jella doll for your book together with your child: you can twist pipe wire and glue a head on top, probably add dress, face, hair.
  • You can also just use any little doll as Jella.
  • Talk about the parts of the body: Children with vision impairments are developing only slowly something like a "body scheme". Discuss with your child,
    what is located where at the body. Your child can seek and show the body parts at itself, at your body, at other persons and at dolls. The child can also
    realize where what is located during the handicraft process.
  • "The matchstick men do gymnastics": Discover matchstick pictures with your child. Your child can try to copy and exercise the postures or draw them with
    wax crayon on drawing film or other appropriate materials.
  • To distinguish body postures: Discuss with your child the meaning of different postures, demonstrate the posture and let your child touch them. Make a
    guessing game: Can you hear whether I sit or stand, whether I look upwards or let my head hang down, whether I am turned towards you or away?

3. Scissors

  • Fix scissors with a string to the folder; thus it can wander with your child through the entire book; with movable parts like this you can let many bookscome alive.
  • Make your child repeat the terms for the parts of scissors: handle, blades ...
  • Make your child repeat the terms for the parts of scissors: handle, blades ...- Show your child different kinds of scissors: size, form, function, purpose, material ... Let your child investigate, describe and compare all the scissors; try them out: what can you cut well or badly with which scissors? Give your child credit! Don't be too anxious! Let it act itself, don't provide too much!
  • If possible, avoid to guide your child's hands!
  • Rehearse precautionary measures for handling scissors, e.g. always hand scissors to somebody else with the handle ahead.


4. Curtain

  • Fix an uncut part of a curtain into the book together with your child: staple, glue or sew it around a stick.
  • Let your child slit a part of a curtain. You might hold it tight in order to facilitate the cutting. Fix the strips in the book.
  • Investigate curtains and drapes with your child: how they are hanged, how they can be pulled up and down, opened and closed; consistence of the fabric;
    let your child climb a ladder in order to explore the size of the window and the mounting suspension of the curtain.
  • Discuss with your child the functions of curtains: decoration, view protection, sound absorption
  • Using curtains as an example you can show your child how to hide behind things. Tell your child whether you can see him/her behind a curtain, drape, door,
    sofa, wall, under a blanket ... What is transparent, what is non-transparent?
  • Compare seeing with hearing and touching: Through a curtain you cannot see, but hear and touch; through a glass door you can see, but not touch and barely
  • In this way your child learns something about how seeing works.

5. Strips

  • Explain to your child what strips are by using tactile strips, duct tape strips on paper etc.
  • draw with your fingers stripes on your child's hand or back
  • one can touch zebra pedestrian crossings a little bit with stick or shoe sole
  • mention what else has stripes: tiger, zebra ...
  • make your child touch and go along tactile stripes or lines, that's a pre-exercise of reading braille


6. Books

  • Your child can learn what a book can be. Compare different kinds of books: different bindings, book covers, formats, black and braille scripture.
  • Glue little self made books into the Jella book.
  • Your child can exercise turning and counting pages in books.
  • Compare black scripture and braille books with each other (thickness, pictures ...)
  • Clarify terms and concepts: cover, back, title, front and back page
  • Reading direction from front to back, from top to bottom, from left to right: that's how sighted people read with their eyes and blind people with their fingers.
  • Exercise with your child how to put books back to the shelf carefully.
  • There are also audio books available for blind children and adults (

Make audio books and a "Daisy Player" accessible for your child.

7. Pictures

  • You can paste up your completed Jella book or the self-created little book for the Tuesday page with a self-created title picture.
  • For another self-created book you can then cut this picture out again.
  • If you have tactile pictures, you can let your child touch them. You will soon notice which haptic pictures are easy or difficult to recognize by your
  • You can find criteria for good tactile pictures here.


8. Carpet

  • You can glue small parts of carpet or loose fringes into the book or create a floor plan of your apartment as a puzzle of carpet parts.
  • Explore different kinds of carpets with your child from top to bottom: woven, knotted, gummed - with and without fringes
  • Discuss other floorings: wood (parquet, timber piling), PVC, linoleum, tiles, stone ... How does it feel, how does it sound, on which flooring can I sneak
    up best?
  • Create a foot-touch-path with different floorings, that your child then must guess.
  • You can probably use different floorings in your house as orientation help. E.g. the table stands on a special carpet, that could be a collision warning
    for your child, also special flooring in front of stairs.


You can probably get carpet rests free from carpet stores.
Carpet can be laid as noise protection pads under braille typewriters (double folded, so that you can easily move the machine).


9. Flowers

  • Complement the book with artificial flowers - perhaps in a way that one can pluck and "repot" them.
  • Discover with your child all kinds of plants and flowers. Clarify the components: roots, stalk/stem, leaves, blossoms, fruits ...
  • Get to know different kinds: pot flowers, cut flowers, herbs, crop plants ...
  • For blind people smelling plants are especially exciting: mint, lavender, rosemary, basil ...
  • What are edible and inedible plants?
  • What does a plant need to grow? (light, water, soil/nutrient, CO2/substances in the air)
  • Clarify the concept of flower care and when it makes sense to cut leaves/flowers: for tea, in case of illness, dried leaves, faded blossoms, as bouquet,
    in order to make the plant branch out (mint); when do leaves naturally drop off (too dry, too old)?


10. Dog

  • You can glue fur or cut off hair into the book.
  • Let your child pet real dogs, perhaps in your neihgborhood.
  • Show him/her different dog breeds (plastic or stuffed).
  • Clarify parts of the dog's body and typical attributes of a dog, distinguishing dogs from other animals.
  • Let your child get to know a blind person with a guide dog.


11. Cuddly Toy

  • Fix a piece of gauze bandage into the book. Your child can now knot a mini stuffed animal into it. Thus your child can exercise how to knot and tie a bow.
  • You can also discuss parts of the body again with the stuffed animal.
  • Discuss and explore the making of cuddly toys: fabric, filling ...

12. Bandage/Dressing Material

  • Get a bandage out of the first aid kit together with your child. Look what else is there.
  • Exercise opening the package.
  • Exercise unwinding and recoiling, wrap and bandage different things: body parts, cuddly toys, dolls ...
  • Show your child how to fix a bandage (band-aid, clips).
  • Let your child cut gauze.


13. Noise

I guess you will find enough stuff to make noise in your home...

14. Tactile Marking

You can complement the book with braille texts.

There are many possibilities:

  • Words version: stick just single words to things or persons acuring on the pages. You can write those words also on cards that can be fixed by your child on the right places.
  • For the minibooks on chapter 5 you can write single words or tactile pictures out of braille signes.
  • The whole text can be witten directly on the pages of the original book. It can be written on transparent foils to sew into the book on sticking transparent foils or on normal paper.
  • Your child can perhaps already write its own name that can be putten into the books: "This book belongs to ..."
  • The braille text should be written in double line distance and perhaps also in double word distance.

Folgende Braillesysteme sind denkbar:

  • Basisschrift mit Ausschreibung aller Buchstaben
  • Vollschrift mit den Abkürzungen ch, ei, au ...
  • ggf. 8-Punkt-Braille, wenn Ihr Kind dies voraussichtlich in der Schule zuerst lernen wird.
  • In der regulären 6-Punkt-Brailleschrift ist es für Vorschüler einfacher, die Kennzeichnung von Großbuchstaben wegzulassen.

15. Descriptions of images

While reading you should also describe the pictures to your child. The following remarks may help you in this:

  • What is on the picture?
  • Where is what located?
  • Who is doing what?
  • Whereat can you recognice this?
  • How do persons and things look?
  • Wich things are important to understand the pictures and the book?
  • first a general description, then details


  • Does my child know the concepts that I use in my description?
  • Are there interesting or funny deatils worth describing?
  • The descriptions should not be to long.
  • You can record yourself reading the text and doing the descriptions. So you can produce an audiobook for your child

16. Tactile graphics und books


You can add tactile images to normal books. You can find advices for good tactile images here.

You can create tactile graphics in different ways:

  • special foil for tactile graphics with special silicon pad
  • fingercolor with perfume oil, e.g. for a book with fruits
  • 3d colors, Glitterglue
  • wax strings
  • models, shapes and reliefs out of all materials