It’s our 3rd Annual INCLUDAS Book Party, and we made a tactile book.
Tactile books stimulate a reader’s sensory skills. They usually contain interesting textures and surfaces or moving objects that help tactile learners engage with literary texts. They are fun for everyone, but are especially popular as learning tools for low vision and blind people. They can capture experiences you have had, help teach you about a specific theme, or simply tell a story. For example, instead of seeing a pretty illustration of clouds, you can feel the clouds’ fluffiness pop out against the background.
Today, we’ll be creating a tactile storybook — “The Three Little Pigs” — like a regular storybook, only it uses textures and objects to distinguish the story’s setting, characters, and actions. The most important part of any tactical book is to gather the materials needed. This is a fun activity to do with kids, but make sure a parent or guardian is present.
- Script (see below)
- Marker, pencil, or pen
Materials for making and binding the book
- Strong thread
- Hole puncher or awl tool
Materials for the background
- Assorted colors of acrylic paint (in our example, we’ll be using
green, blue, and white)
- Optional: Small buttons, sequins, fabric, or beads to make flowers
- Cotton balls
Materials for characters
- Pink felt (or your choice)
- Black felt
- Brown thread
- Pink buttons (optional)
Materials for characters
- Brown felt
- Black felt
- White felt
- Brown yarn
Materials for the houses
- Toothpicks or twigs collected from outdoors
- Straw, foliage, or shredded paper
- Cardboard or textured paper
Step One: Review and print the script
You’re probably familiar with the story of “The Three Little Pigs,” but we simplified the story in order to make this project an easy ten pages. You can edit this script to your liking.
Page 1: Once upon a time, there were three little pigs that decided to build homes on a scenic hill. The first pig made his house out of straw. The second made his house out of sticks. The third pig made his house out of bricks. Unbeknownst to them, a wolf lived nearby.
Page 2: One day, the wolf was hungry and went out in search of food. When he saw the pigs, his mouth started to drool, but before he could eat them, the pigs quickly fled to their houses.
Page 3: The hungry wolf knocked on the first house made of straw and demanded, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.” The pig replied, “No, not by the hairs on my chinny chin chin.”
Page 4: The angry wolf said, “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.” As the house was blown away, the first pig fled to his neighbor’s house.
Page 5: The hungry wolf knocked on the second house made of sticks and demanded, “Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in.” The pigs replied, “No, not by the hairs on our chinny chin chins.”
Page 6: The angry wolf said, “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.” As the house was blown away, the two pigs fled to their neighbor’s house.
Page 7: The hungry wolf knocked on the last house made of bricks and demanded, “Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in.” The pigs replied, “No, not, by the hairs on our chinny chin chins.”
The angry wolf said, “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.” And he huffed, and he puffed, and he huffed, and he puffed, and he puffed, and he huffed, but he could not get the house down. After trying for a long while, he got dizzy and fainted.
Page 8: The third pig, the most cunning of the three, announced he had an idea to get rid of the wolf for good. While the wolf was unconscious, one pig began a fire pit outside, the second brought out a large pot filled with water, and the third set out a basket full of vegetables. They then scurried inside, and the third little pig rang the dinner bell and exclaimed, “Brothers, it’s time to make wolf stew! All we need is to find the recipe book! Hurry before he wakes up!” The wolf woke up in an instant. When he looked around and saw the pot of boiling water and the basket of vegetables already prepared, he was convinced he had accidentally encountered wolf-eating pigs. Frightened, he ran away.
Page 9: After that day, the third little pig helped rebuild his neighbors’ houses out of brick. At least once a week, they’d get together and make a pot of vegetable stew to share, and in case the wolf was nearby, they would exclaim, “Yummy, wolf soup!” And to this day, the wolf has never bothered them again.
Page 10: The End.
Step Two: Sketch out your page design
Now that you know the story, it’s time to plan out how you’re going to design each page. While you can create each page as you go along, it may be helpful to sketch out a thumbnail of each page. Below we attached a copy of our thumbnail sketches. You can make your own, or you can follow ours.
Step Three: Prepare the cardboard pages
Cut your cardboard so that you have eleven equal-sized pieces. Ten will be used as story pages, and one will be used as a title page.
Step Four: Work on the background of the page
For the rest of this activity, let’s work on page one together.
First, we should work on the background. To do this, we need to draw a hill and a sky. For the hill, paint the bottom of the page green with green paint. (To get a lighter shade of green, mix some white paint.) For the sky, paint the top of the page blue to create the sky.
Since this is a tactile book, we want to make sure this background engages our sense of touch! Glue cotton balls together to make clouds. (You can also shred them a little before gluing to give them a wispy design.) Next, we want to embellish the hills a little. In our design, we added some premade paper flowers, but you could make your own using paper and beads.
Step Five: Work on the houses
Next, it’s time to make the pigs’ houses. We chose to go with a simple design — a rectangular base and a triangular roof — but you can alter yours.
First, we’ll make the house of straw. There are many ways you can represent straw, using either grass, foliage, shredded paper, or straw itself. In our example, we used shredded newsprint. We made a house shape with the paper, then glued it down, making sure to leave room for the little pig that lives inside.
Next, let’s make the house of sticks. To represent the sticks, you can use toothpicks, popsicle sticks, or go outside and collect twigs. In our example, we used toothpicks. We made a house shape, then glued the toothpicks down, leaving room for the second little pig.
Finally, let’s make the house of bricks. To represent bricks, you can use cardboard, textured paper, small rocks, or anything that feels sturdy and brick-like. We cut our cardboard into four narrow columns for the sides of the house and its roof. We then cut some small rectangles out of the cardboard and glued those over the cardboard columns, creating a rough, brick-wall texture.
Step Six: Work on the pigs
Draw out your pig design on a piece of paper. Since you’ll be making quite a few pigs for this book, a simple design is best — in our example, we worked with simple shapes and used pink and black felt. Our pigs’ bodies were made up of a circular head and an oval body. A triangular cut was then made at the bottom of the oval to create legs. Small, irregular pieces of felt were used to make the hands and tail. To make the snout, we cut a semicircle out of a slightly darker pink felt. (If you have a pink button available, you could also use that for the snout.) We then cut out little pieces of black felt for the eyes. Finally, we glued their pigs inside their houses.
Step Seven: Work on the wolf
Draw out your wolf design on a piece of paper. Much like with the pigs, a simple design is best — in our example, we worked with simple shapes, using brown and black felt and brown yarn. Our wolf’s body is made up of a mostly triangular head and a trapezoid-shaped body. Next, we cut out an oval piece of white fabric and a smaller, diamond piece of black fabric to make the wolf’s eye. After you cut out the wolf from the felt, it’s time to add its fur. This step is important, as you want to be able to distinguish the wolf from the pigs. Cut strands of yarn equal to the size of the wolf’s torso and glue them down. Now your wolf has his fur! Finally, glue the wolf onto the hill behind the houses.
Now our first page is complete!
Step Eight: Refer to thumbnails and work on other pages
Now that you know how to create the five basic elements of the book — the wolf, the pigs, the straw house, the stick house, and the brick house — it’s time to follow the other thumbnails and complete the next nine pages. Don’t forget to add texture to the background by adding clouds to the sky and flowers to your hill. For an extra challenge, you can also add textures to different items: for example, on pages nine and ten, you can cut out the pot shape from aluminum foil.
Completing nine pages may seem like a lot, but this project can be split across multiple days.
Step Nine: Create the cover page
Decorate your cover page. Get as creative as you want — every good book needs a cover! Don’t forget to title the book and sign your name at the bottom.
Step Ten: Add text
Stack your completed pages in sequential order. On the back side of the cover and each illustrated page, there should be a blank page. Take your printed script, match each corresponding text with the appropriate illustration, and glue the text down. Alternatively, if you know a young reader who is working on penmanship, glue down a piece of lined paper on the blank page and have them write down the text.
Step Eleven: Bind pages
Hole punch three holes along the left-hand side of each page. Depending on the size of your book, each hole should be 2-3 inches vertically distanced from the other. With a sturdy thread or yarn, loop all the pages together.
And lastly: sit back and enjoy your creation!