Commonwealth Education Handbooks

2310-1482 (online)
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This series of practical handbooks are designed to assist educators in addressing the continuing task of teacher education especially where existing training facilities cannot keep pace with demand.

Low Cost Teaching Aids for Special Education

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Commonwealth Secretariat
01 Jan 1982
9781848593497 (PDF)
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  • Preface

    The Eighth Commonwealth Education Conference held in Colombo in August 1980 drew attention to the special educational needs of children and adults who suffer from physical or mental disablement. The Conference recognised that a fresh interest in special education, which would be generated by the 1981 International Year of Disabled Persons (declared by the United Nations General Assembly) provided an excellent opportunity for the Commonwealth Secretariat's Education Division to renew activities in this very important sector of education (8CEC Report, Paragraph 140).

  • Introduction

    There are many teaching aids and pieces of equipment which can be made in the school by both teachers and pupils if a few sets of simple and inexpensive hand tools are provided.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Part One: Tools and Equipment

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    • Tools

      There are no such things as really cheap tools, so it pays to buy the best you can afford. If there is not enough money to include a vice in the tool kit, buy a few ‘G’ clamps as these can very often be used to hold wood and metal while they are being worked on. Learn how to keep tools sharp and in good condition, as this will make it very much easier to use them.

    • Work Top

      The problem for any teacher is not ‘what shall I make’ but ‘where and with what shall I make it?’. The same is often said about practical work in the classroom.

    • Wood Vice

      This is a very easily made piece of equipment which replaces the standard metal vice which is clamped on the edge of a table. It can cope with both large and small pieces, and leaves both hands free to hold the saw, and give extra pressure to the wood. The illustrations show how it fits on the table without having to drill any holes in it.

    • Painting

      Before buying any paint, make absolutely sure that it is safe to use on things that children are going to handle and use regularly. This is very important as some paints contain poisonous ingredients. Always follow the manufacturers' instructions to the letter and use a brand which dries quickly.

    • Mitre and Sanding Block

      Sometimes it is possible to design a piece of equipment which will do several jobs, and the mitre and sanding board is one of them. Beside cutting corner joints (mitres) and glass papering, it can be used as a bench aid when sawing wood. Having cut a piece of wood at 45° or 90° it is possible to sand it exactly at that angle.

    • Drawing Board

      The drawing board can be made for many uses. One side can be used for technical drawing while the other side can be painted so that it can be wiped or washed clean after being used. If plywood or other manufactured board is not available thin seasoned timber can be glued and battened together, and sanded flat and smooth.

    • T Square

      The size of the T square will be determined by the size of the drawing board it is to be used on. The secret of making this accurately is to glue and clamp the two pieces together exactly right, and only when the glue is fully set are the screws used.

    • Blackboard Geometry Set

      The size of these instruments will to some extent depend on the size and type of blackboard that they are used on.

    • Blackboard Compasses

      An elastic band holds the chalk to the arm.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Part Two: Teaching Aids

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    • Numbered Fish and Snakes

      This is a fun way of starting to learn numbers as well as fitting together various shapes. If teachers make these themselves, they can decide just how hard or easy it is to make pieces fit together, as only they know what is best for the children in their classes. If the numbers are only stuck on one side, the fish or snake can be turned over, and the child can try to assemble the shape without the numbers.

    • Wooden Bricks

      Bricks can play an important part in the early education of children. As they are easy to make, the children themselves can be involved in making them. For example they can sandpaper the sawn pieces of wood on sanding boards to get a smooth finish as well as stick on the numbers, letters or pictures.

    • Numbered Top

      Children with or without hand problems can play this game together, as the top can be spun with the fingers or just by knocking the pin. A second top can be made which has only +, −, ✕ and ÷ signs. The players can then not only add up the score after each spin, but also solve the sums as they spin.

    • Roll a Coin

      The angle and width of the slot must suit the size and weight of the coin. Saw slots to suit the coins. A range of sheets can be made, and some can include +, −, ✕ and ÷ signs so that multiplication and division are included in the game to make it more educational.

    • Telling the Time

      Bolt together tight enough so that the hands can be moved without slipping down.

    • Balance

      Balance A will give more accurate results than B but is not so strong. Some of each is the answer, as they are both easy to make. If the classroom is open, it will be necessary to fix a wind guard around the balance so that it is protected from the wind.

    • Scales with Polythene Bag

      The size of these polythene bag test holders will depend entirely on the size of the bags to be used. So long as the base is heavy and large enough to support the bag when it is full with water it will be safe. Dangerous materials should never be used in the classroom and the experiments which the children are involved with must be safe and simple.

    • Polythene Test Tube Holder and Adjustable Height Polythene Bag Holder

      Various sized bags can be used

    • Growing Things in Polythene Bags and Polythene Bag Fish Tank

      Growing things in the classroom is more instructional when clear polythene bags are used. A supporting frame can be made by drilling four holes in the wooden base, and glueing in 1/2 “wooden dowels. The size of the base and the distance between the dowels will depend on the size of the bags.

    • Re-usable Writing Board

      Place a piece of thin plywood, hardboard or strong card in a good quality natural coloured polythene bag, making sure it is a very good fit.

    • How to Make Prints from Wax

      Heat the wax in a metal tray over a flame, or put the tray in a hot sunny place. When the wax has a smooth surface, let it cool.

    • The Illuminator

      The illuminator has proved to be a very effective and inexpensive teaching aid. It can be made in a hour or so from odd pieces of wood, card and two wire coat hangers. The light source can be from electric mains power, batteries, oil or gas lights.

    • Further Ideas and Notes
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