After I witnessed how successful the coin bank game was with the clients at the Bridge, I decided that I would piece together a mystery bag for them to use also. (To view my post written about this work used in the classroom go here) I found an interesting bag at the thrift store and a blindfold, also. I gathered coins from willing staff and put them in the bag, making sure that I have four of each: quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. I also printed out a large print version of a coin identification chart for those individuals that may need prompting in regards to knowing which coin is which.
It was really great to see the two money works sitting side by side on the "Montessori" shelves.
I invited the senior who had done the coin bank game the day before to join me in a new activity. Before we started, however, I showed him how to put a tissue on top of the blindfold before putting the blindfold on. This is what I was taught in my training. It helps in preventing the spread of eye infections as multiple people will be using the same blindfold.
Too, I guided his fingertips over the edges of the coins highlighting the differences. He was very quick to note which coin was which by this method.
Soon he had the blindfold on and was pulling out one coin after another and naming each.
He got every coin right. Each time he pulled one from the bag, he would say "Smooth around the edges," or he would say, "Small and light, this is a dime."
The next day, I invited another senior to do the work. Like the first senior, she felt the ridge of each coin and named each one correctly. Only the pennies were challenging for her. She said she had trouble feeling the surface engravings on the pennies as some were more worn than others.
After she did the work, we talked about how using a blindfold makes you more aware of the tactile impressions of your environment via your hand. We both agreed that is would be great work to do before beginning a sketch; she is an excellent artist, or before starting to write a story; I am a writer.
Using a blindfold with the elderly always needs to be done in a one on one setting and always when they are seated. Every person's senses are unique and their experiences garnered via those senses are also unique. This is why sensorial materials are recommended to be mostly used by one person at a time. An exception is when two adults or students are working together. In this case, one wears the blindfold while the other assists with the materials in use.
I am putting together a second mystery bag this weekend of small objects. I am on the hunt for what to put in there...oh the fun of it!