Graphics Literacy: Tracing Lines

There are numerous tracing lines worksheets for preschoolers and kindergarten students with vision. The primary goal of these worksheets is to help refine those pre-writing skills which lays a strong foundation for drawing and emerging writing. To make the tracing worksheets fun, students trace from left to right (or from top to bottom) to find the interesting items at the end of the line. 

So, what about students who will be braille readers? Are tracing lines worksheets simply 'busy work'? Absolutely not! Students who are emerging braille readers also need to practice tracing the tactile lines and exploring the tactile images at the end of the line! Although often overlooked, Graphics Literacy is a critical skill. For students who are blind or low vision, graphics literacy is a pre-reading skill, as students need to be able to follow a line from left to right before they can read braille letters/words. Students also need early exposure to exploring tactile images and students need to develop concepts that are represented by tactile images. For example: The Tracing Ocean 1 worksheet has various circular and pointed lines; each line leads to a unique ocean creature. Can the student trace the line to find the crab, turtle, fish and star fish? Does the student know the unique characteristics of each of these ocean creatures? Can the student tactually identify these characteristics in order to identify each ocean creature? 

Note: These worksheets are intended to be printed on capsule (Swell) paper and run through a tactile graphics machine, such as a PIAF or Swell machine.

Tracing Ocean 1 worksheet: four curving or pointed lines leading to silhouettes of a crab, turtle, fish and star fish.

Tracing Ocean 1 worksheet (download for PIAF or Swell machine)

Here is another tracing worksheet with different lines leading to a dolphin, octopus, sea horse, and star fish.

Tracing Ocean worksheet 2: 4 different types of lines leading to a dolphin, octopus, sea horse and star fish.

Tracing Ocean 2 worksheet

The Tracing Ice Cream worksheet has lines leading to four different ice cream images: bar ice cream on a stick, a waffle cone with three scoops, a plain cone with one scoop, and a waffle cone with a swirl of soft ice cream. These images all fall under the category of "ice cream" but have different shapes. Does the student understand that ice cream comes in different forms? Does the student understand that even though these tactile images are very different, they all represent ice cream?

Tracing Ice cream worksheet with four different curving or pointed lines leading to an ice cream bar, 3 scoops cone, 1 scoop cone and soft swirl cone.

Tracing Ice Scream Worksheet

The Tracing Flower worksheet is designed to be traced from the top to the bottom. However, it can be traced left to right, as the flowers are the same no matter which direction the paper is turned. The Tracing Flower worksheet has three simple lines: a straight line, a slightly curved line and zig-zag (or pointing) line. Three different flower heads are used.

Tracing Flower worksheet: intended to be up/down lines with a different flower at the end of each line.

Tracing Flower Worksheet

Identifying Tactile Graphics

Depending on your student and the goal of the activity, you may want students to learn about the ocean creatures and their characteristics before doing the tracing activities. As always, introduce a 3-D model first, before the 2-D tactile graphic to students who are developing tactile graphics stories. Since tactile images of these ocean creatures are probably new to your student, consider introducing the tactile images first, before the tracing worksheets. Attached is a sheet with the same silhouette ocean creatures (slightly larger for easier exploration). The images are on one sheet (to save on capsule paper); you can choose to cut apart the images if desired.

Ocean Creatures

Flowers and Ice Cream

If your student is new to tactile graphics but is/has learned about shapes, create tracing lines that lead to the shapes the student has learned. Since tracing is the main goal, choose very simple and familiar items that the the tracing lines lead to. I chose summer-themed shapes for these tracing lines, as the content of the classroom lessons are currently revolving around summer themes. Holiday images are also a lot of fun!

Creating Tracing Worksheets

These tracing worksheets are easy to create! You can print a black and white copy of the worksheet that the gen ed classroom is using. If the images are simple and will work as a raised image, simply use a black marker to color in the image if needed. (Remember, lines or images in colored ink will not raise in the PIAF or Swell machine.) If the images on the worksheet are not appropriate (many images contain too many details that are not distinguishable when viewed tactually), you can still use the digital image (or a picture of the original line worksheet) and annotate another image over the inaccessible image. Use a free image library, such as the free images on Pixabay.com or do an internet search for "silhouette, ice cream (or your desired image), Creative Commons". (Creative Commons images are not copyrighted.) Save the image on our desktop. Open and copy the image. Annotate it on top of the line image; resize the image and drag it to the desired location. Another method is to use the GoodNotes app on the iPad. You can create your own lines and add your image. If the image is not a black silhouette, use your stylus or finger to trace and fill in the image.

Learn more about creating tactile graphic images for the PIAF or Swell machines here.

Another simple graphics literacy activity: Eggs-citing Tactile Graphic Activities post.

Digital Literacy Skill

Learning to trace tactile lines is a pre-cursor to learning to trace digital lines. Digital lines are made accessible with sonification - when sounds are added to the digital lines, enabling students to trace the line using these sounds. Learn more about sonified lines and apps with sonified lines: