Dressing for Success

Art Beyond Sight

 Activity Plan


Photo of classThis unique New York City-based pilot program addresses the needs of school-age children with visual impairments. Focused on dressing skills and self-expression through dressing, as well as building social skills and confidence, the project integrates occupational therapy, daily living skills development, and art education to improve academic and functional performance, as well as to develop social integration skills, enabling these students to become more independent.

Photo of students and teachersAnalytic description of pupils:
“Dressing for Success” is a model project combining occupational, art and music therapies. Five elementary and middle school classes were targeted. They are located in two public schools in Brooklyn, NY, that serve children in grades K–7 with visual impairments, and secondary learning and socialization deficits due to visual-spatial issues, fine and gross motor difficulties, self-esteem and dependency concerns.

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The expanded core curriculum area needed to achieve our learning standard and content goals include those of Career Education and Social Interaction.  However, the topic is not really new to educators of the visually impaired.  According to the Web site of the American Foundation for the Blind, “references to the subject of grooming skills date back as far as 1891. The need for social interaction skills appears in the literature in 1929 and again in 1948.  Between the years 1953 and 1975, there are more than two dozen references to books and articles written about daily living skills and visually impaired students…The expanded core curriculum now being promoted is not new--its need has been known for decades.”


Children will demonstrate mastery or progress toward mastery of seven basic dressing skills (see attached activity plans): tying a lace; tying a bow; belting and buckling; buttoning; snapping; zippering pants; zippering a jacket.

Photo of student fashion showThese skills are a prerequisite for the ability to engage in various individual and group activities for the design and creating of clothing, such as vests and hats, to be featured in a “fashion show” at the program's closing event.




Photo of student fashion show

Children will participate in the show/reception at the course’s conclusion.  Additional classroom activities will include helping to design, draw, and address invitations to the reception. Event activities will include greeting guests, serving food, a fashion parade, and presentation and/or musical performance of songs used to teach the above-mentioned dressing skills.

Instructional strategies:

Manipulation of materials, student discussion in small group learning, active involvement, cooperative learning, and the use of technology.

Developmental skills necessary for success:

Children are at various levels of independence in dressing and self-care skills.  These include the ability to don and doff outer wear (coats, scarfs hats, mittens, and book bags);  indoor clothing (shirts, pants, socks, and shoes); self-care and personal hygiene skills (washing, teeth brushing, hair combing, etc.).

Model/strategy appropriate for achieving objective:

During a five-month program, children will have ample opportunities to refine their dressing skills and fashion sense through individualized and group sessions.   Teaching materials and strategies will be provided by ABS instructors, who will instruct and be assisted by classroom teachers and teaching aids.  Hands-on modeling, cooperative learning, and mastery learning will be utilized to teach, motivate, and reward each student’s accomplishments, with ample opportunities for discussion and discovery.


Each lesson will be supplemented by materials and aids provided by ABS staff, specific to the skill to be studied.  These will include a variety of assistive fine motor, as well as real-life objects.  Tying skills, for example, will be demonstrated by hands-on opportunities to work with shoes, neck ties, scarves and hair accessories, as well as specialized assistive materials, including colored pipe cleaners, large resistive “rapper snapper” tubes and colored shoe laces mounted with tape to tabletop surfaces.  Arts and craft supplies, including stick-on designs, fabric markers, beads, jewelry, etc., will be available to accentuate and personalize hats and special dressing vests provided.

Musician plays music for studentsLearning will be enhanced throughout by live and recorded music, using CDs, percussion and guitars, enforcing the how-to of individual dressing skills with the over-arching message of “Easy When You Know How” to help encourage and motivate learners and teachers.



Classroom organization:

Classes will be conducted in a combination of large groups, small groups, and individualized formats.  1:1 hands-on instruction, however, will be utilized throughout.



Anticipatory set:

Learners will be informed of the goals and objectives from initial presenting of required dressing skills to involvement in fashion design to participation in concluding reception at the outset of the class and throughout its progression.  Thus a sense of momentum and excitement will be built into the course.

Procedures for achieving objective(s):

  1. Introduction of objectives and methodology to teachers and children.
  2. Discussion and demonstration of seven dressing skills, using everyday examples and adaptive teaching supplies, e.g., scarves, neckties, pipecleaners, and large tubes to illustrate tying.
  3. Use of music and songs to reinforce content.
  4. 1:1 assistance provided by ABS instructors and classroom teachers.
  5. Art making and self-expression through fashion: creating own fashion designs, decorating hats and scarves. Children will use arts and crafts supplies to personalize specialized dressing vests.  Follow up class includes the use and history of hats.  The children will discuss, feel, and model a variety of hats and choose hats to decorate for their teachers.  Follow-up classes will include fabrication of hat designs for teacher and themselves.
  6. Creative writing on themes related to dressing, and fashion. Practice handwriting, as well as creative expression and social confidence.
  7. Song writing: Teaching language.
  8. Event production and social skill building through creating event management teams that take responsibility for different aspects of the event: invitation design, event program design, greeting committee, refreshments, sign-in book, entertainment, clean up.
  9. Course will conclude with a final reception held at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
  10. Modification for children’s varied visual ability through equipment, language, and cooperative-learning strategies.

Reflection and Assessment:

Children will have the opportunity to discuss the process and importance of the activities they practiced in the context of their use for the fashion show. Adults will query children’s feeling about the value and success of the project, and instructional strategies.

NYS Learning Standard(s):

The Arts

Standard 1:   Creating, Performing, and Participating in the Arts
Students will actively engage in the processes that constitute creation and performance in the arts (dance, music, theatre, and visual arts) and participate in various roles in the arts.

Standard 2:   Knowing and Using Art Materials and Resources
Students will be knowledgeable about and make use of the materials and resources available for participation in the arts in various roles.

English Language Arts

Standard 1:   Language for Information and Understanding
Students will listen, speak, read, and write for information and understanding. As listeners and readers, students will collect data, facts, and ideas; discover relationships, concepts, and generalizations; and use knowledge generated from oral, written, and electronically produced texts. As speakers and writers, they will use oral and written language that follows the accepted conventions of the English language to acquire, interpret, apply, and transmit information.

Standard 4:   Language for Social Interaction
Students will listen, speak, read, and write for social interaction. Students will use oral and written language that follows the accepted conventions of the English language for effective social communication with a wide variety of people. As readers and listeners, they will use the social communications of others to enrich their understanding of people and their views.

Health, Physical Education, and Family and Consumer Sciences

Standard 1:   Personal Health and Fitness
Students will have the necessary knowledge and skills to establish and maintain physical fitness, participate in physical activity, and maintain personal health.

Languages Other Than English

Standard 1:   Communication Skills
Students will be able to use a language other than English for communication.

Mathematics, Science, and Technology

Standard 6:   Interconnectedness - Common Themes
Students will understand the relationships and common themes that connect mathematics, science, and technology, and apply the themes to these and other areas of learning.

Standard 7:   Interdisciplinary Problem Solving
Students will apply the knowledge and thinking skills of mathematics, science, and technology to address real-life problems and make informed decisions.

Expanded Core Curriculum Goals:


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