Today we’re looking at developing accessible learning materials!
Here at Blossom Ireland, we’re constantly striving to create materials that are fully-accessible to all learners. This can be tricky at times, so we were delighted to discover someone else who values accessibility just as much as we do!
Eleanor Geoghegan, a brand-new author from Kilkenny, used her experience of raising two autistic children to develop a children’s book designed to include readers that have sensory difficulties, autism, intellectual disabilities and other additional needs!
Read on to learn more about this brilliant book and which learning methods have been incorporated into the text & illustrations to make it as accessible as possible.
Making an Accessible Children’s Book
Eleanor Geoghegan, an author from Kilkenny has debuted her first children’s picture book, written for children with sensory difficulties but suitable for all children. Popper Monster’s Magical Rainbow Lunch Adventure is a first concepts book, teaching the colours of the Rainbow in a fun and educational way.
Eleanor is a primary school teacher and mother of two autistic children who were the inspiration behind the book, so it was important for Eleanor to launch this in April to coincide with World Autism Awareness Month. Eleanor is overwhelmed with the positive feedback that her book has been getting from families and children nationwide.
Eleanor wanted to dedicate a moment in time to her children, Ava who is in 1st class and Jack who is in preschool, while also providing a magical and engaging way for all children, including children with additional needs, to learn. The book is aimed at preschool/infant-aged children, and all ages for children with additional needs.
What’s it about?
The main character, the Popper Monster, is a unique and loveable character who uses a magic stick to invent silly and funny monster foods. Today, the colours of the Rainbow happen to be for lunch. Popper Monster must fill a grumbling, mumbling, monster belly in this first adventure with some help from friends along the way. Eleanor’s daughter had the nickname of Popper from the time she was a tiny baby and the name for the main character grew from that.
Eleanor chose to print the book onto a silk paper stock to enhance the texture of the paper and each of the 36 colour pages are full of vibrant visuals. It was beautifully illustrated by talented French illustrator Helen Crevel, who perfectly brought Eleanor’s vision to life.
How is it accessible? What learning methods are used?
When Eleanor wrote the story, she wanted to include some important elements which are represented through educational icons on the back of the book. Eleanor used a lot of repetition and rhyming patterns, as she knew through first-hand experience that this style helped her children to learn. This makes the book a perfect aid for intraverbals. The book is full of lyrical phrasing with a sensory flow in the language to enhance engagement and morphemic learning when read aloud. This also feeds into the musical learning ability of children, a learning ability which is often a great strength in children with additional needs, helping them to understand the world around them.
Eleanor also wrote it to encourage children to connect the noises and sensations that their own tummies make when they are hungry to the Popper Monster’s hungry belly. Eleanor wanted to write a very interactive story. This book encourages the reader to ask what Rainbow colour will be eaten next, allowing children to engage in the world of imaginative play. This is an area universally loved by all children, but one that children on the Autism spectrum can find difficult to tap into.
Eleanor’s daughter really enjoyed engaging with Popper Monster and the magic stick, and was able to connect to her own pretend play skills in a comfortable and fun way. The time order explored with the First and Next of the Rainbow colours also helps with sequencing, an important skill that all children need to learn. Finally, Eleanor also wanted to write a book that adults would enjoy sharing and retelling over and over again with their children. There have been lots of favourite Monster foods so far from the book from ‘Green apple and suitcase ice-cream’ to ‘a caterpillar’s stinky sock’. The sillier, the better!
The book is available to buy off Eleanor’s website and is also stocked in most major bookshops nationwide.
Feel free to follow/contact Eleanor on her Facebook or Instagram pages, as she loves hearing feedback from parents and their children and receiving any artwork or pictures from the Popper Monster book.