Two students fit Reach & Match sensory tiles into pockets of the Reach & Match sensory play mat. On the right side, there are four pictures of sensory tiles. Print and braille letters are on the tiles as follows: c on a red circle tile, i on a blue triangle tile, s on a green square tile, and u on a yellow pentagon tile.
lowercase reach & match: Keeping in touch: line illustration of two hands
A boy stands on the four connected Reach & Match sensory play mats; he picks up sensory tiles that are scattered across the mats. The Big Round Cushion is in the center of the play mats.

Reach & Match® Learning Kit Activity Manual

Mandy, Shuk Man Lau

© 2015 Reach & Match

Proudly designed in Australia.

Edited (2017) by the American Printing House for the Blind for distribution in the United States and outlying areas.

In keeping with our philosophy to provide access to information for people who are blind or visually impaired, the American Printing House for the Blind provides this book electronically as HTML and BRF.

Catalog Number: 1-08816-00


The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) is happy to offer the Reach & Match® Learning Kit to young students in the United States and its outlying area. APH values the kit’s relevance, versatility, promotion of social inclusion, and manufacturing quality. Reach & Match is for toddlers and young children; however, parents, teachers, and students will find the learning outcomes in the Reach & Match manual dovetail nicely with the Continuum of Visual Development (Ferrell, 2010). In the first month of life, babies show visual behaviors such as interest in pattern details in clothing and the environment. They attend to outside edges of a pattern or stimulus. By 2 months, babies perceive objects as three-dimensional; and by 3 months, they shift fixation from one object to another and watch the actions of others. By 4 months, they reach to visual stimulus. Jumping ahead to 9 months, eye-hand coordination improves and babies use vision to mediate reach and grasp. By 12 months, babies use vision to monitor motor activities and they discriminate same and different based on characteristics. By 18 months, toddlers stack objects vertically; and by 2 years, they stack objects horizontally. They begin to complete simple puzzles and foam boards by age 3 years. By 4 years, they identify red, green, blue, and yellow. By 5 years, children build bridges with blocks and match by size and shape.

According to the website How Kids Develop (2008), students develop skills in five main areas of development: cognitive development, social and emotional development, speech and language development, fine motor skill development, and gross motor skill development. There is a plethora of other student development outlines available to parents and educators today with the click of a quick Google search.

Whether one follows the Jean Piaget or Lev Vygotsky (both psychosocial) or the Erik Erikson (cognitive) theoretical approach to child development, or another child development theorist, of which there are many, what remains constant and relevant is that child development is a process through which every student goes. Many developmental skills, including visual behaviors, are attainable when playing with Reach & Match and following the lessons as they are outlined in the manual. For a student with a visual impairment or blindness, the developmental behaviors may be delayed; but the premise of Reach & Match is that the social interaction a student obtains while playing with peers encourages these developmental skills and behaviors (State of NSW, Department of Education and Training, 2010).

There are different levels of learning, and some students may not be ready for same/similar/different in regards to the patterns being larger or longer on the mats than on the tiles. If a student does not know the concept, APH recommends that teachers use Reach & Match to help teach it. Teachers begin to teach concepts of small and big and short and long at a very early age using the Light Box Materials (APH #1-08669-00). As an expansion activity to teach shorter and longer, teachers can use two blue segments of the Tangle Toy (APH #1-08750-00) to create the pattern on the blue tiles and then add a third segment to match the top four rows on the blue mat and then add a fourth segment for the remaining rows on the blue mat. Teachers are very creative and will find innovative ways to incorporate Reach & Match into lessons.

If low vision students do all the activities by color and not by sound or shape, there is always the opportunity to play games where all students wear eye shades/blindfolds. It is like interactive exhibits at zoos and nature preserve centers—stick your hand in a covered box and identify the nature object.

One of the reasons APH was interested to be the United States distributor of Reach & Match is that it provides an opportunity for group play during which teachers can observe and take notes on students as they explore, play games, problem solve, and develop their imaginary play skills.

APH commends Mandy Lau for her research and design of the Reach & Match Learning Kit.

Tristan Pierce
Multiple Disabilities Project Leader
American Printing House for the Blind


Reach & Match® Learning Kit is an innovative system for students with sensory impairment and other special needs to learn and engage with their peers in mainstream environments. The kit consists of four double-sided sensory play mats, which students can use to create different 2D and 3D configurations, and sensory components such as braille/print tiles, which help students—with and without visual impairments—develop literacy. Through well-designed exercises and activities and games, students develop effective childhood skills such as space and direction, body concept, motor, cognitive, communication, and social interaction. The double-sided sensory play mats provide distinctive modes of individual learning and group play. The front side provides toddler training for manual dexterity and identifying tactile patterns. The reverse side provides preschoolers with braille and print learning, motor development, and directional and spatial training. The design concept and features are the result of a postgraduate research based on early childhood education and students with visual and multiple impairments. It was developed and tested with early childhood educators, therapists, psychologists for early intervention programs, and child care centers and schools. The design is internationally recognized and has received numerous awards in the areas of assistive technology, education, and social inclusion. If you want more information about Reach & Match, please visit

Mandy, Shuk Man Lau
Founder and Designer

Why is Reach & Match Different?

Research-based: Reach & Match is a unique social-inclusive tool to empower children with disabilities. Mandy Lau's postgraduate research study was based on research and practices on childhood education and children with special needs. For a complete list, see Resources Used in the Development of Reach & Match at the back of this manual.

Unique: The combination of braille and print literacy, sensory elements, and interactive features was developed with the understanding and concern for students with disabilities studying in a mainstream environment.

Social-inclusive: Most teaching aids are designed specifically for students with distinct disabilities, but Reach & Match is a fun and friendly kit for all students to interact and to develop social skills.

Education-focused: Existing aids in the special-needs market focus on limited functions, but Reach & Match provides different features and important elements that help all students develop different essential functional skills.

Tailor-made: The product is very flexible and easy to use for students with varying levels of sensory impairment or disabilities. It is also portable, which allows specialists to visit students with special needs in different environments and locations.

How to Use This Manual

Learning Outcomes and Activities

It is essential for students with special needs to experience learning outcomes while they develop childhood skills. Simple and effective exercises and activities under each learning outcome help students learn those skills.

Reach & Match Game Ideas

Reach & Match includes effective and fun games that are designed for multilevel learning—from easy to challenging. The games provide different skill sets for students as they learn through interactive play.

Your Own Ideas

Reach & Match is innovative, yet simple and flexible. It is possible to combine more units of Reach & Match to create a great variety of configurations for activities and games. Therefore, the uses of Reach & Match are not limited to what we provide in this manual. Feel free to design your own activities and games for students with varying abilities. Educators, specialists, and parents are encouraged to share their ideas with us:

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We will share your great ideas with the public so more users can enjoy new ways to learn!

Image Description: Pictured is a large circle with many circles inside it. At the center is an orange circle labeled Reach & Match, with five yellow circles surrounding it. The yellow circles say Education, Social Interaction, Early Emotional Development, Personal Empowerment, and Entertainment/Sensory Play. Floating around the yellow circles are lists of targeted skill sets: Braille and Print Learning, which includes Pre-braille learning, Braille alphabet, and Roman alphabet; Cognitive Skills, which includes Sorting skills, Matching skills, Counting skills, Pattern recognition, Sequencing skills, and Memory training; Sensory Integration, which includes Sight and visual skills, Hearing integration, and Touch integration; Body Concepts, which includes Exploration of body parts, Bodily awareness, and Spatial concept; Language Enrichment, which includes Positional and directional words, Sensory words, Question raising, Descriptive words, and Body concept; and Orientation and Motor Skills, which includes Finger manipulation, Wrist twisting, Hand and foot muscle training/development, and Auditory skills. Each of the targeted skill sets has lines leading to three pink circles, which read, Activity 1, Activity 2, and Activity 3.

Kit Content

One unit of Reach & Match Learning Kit contains:

Image shows both sides of sensory play mats, Big Round Cushion, and sensory tiles.

1.0 Learning Outcome: Braille and Print Learning

1.1 Pre-Braille Learning

1.2 The Braille Alphabet

1.3 The Roman Alphabet

One student holds a sensory tile, and another student plays on a sensory play mat.
Pictured are three green sensory tiles, three yellow sensory tiles, and two students playing with sensory tiles. One student has a speech bubble beside her that says, J.O.H.N, John! The other has a speech bubble beside him that says, O for Owl.

2.0 Learning Outcome: Cognitive Skills

2.1 Sorting Skills

2.2 Matching Skills

2.3 Counting Skills

Pictured are four sets of sensory tiles. There are three yellow pentagons, three blue triangles, three red circles, and three green squares in each set. Each set is categorized by the following: Colors, Sounds, Shapes, and Patterns. The Colors set has solid sensory tiles, the Sounds set has various lines and shapes around the tiles that symbolize sound, the Shapes set has colored outlines of the shapes, and the Patterns set has colored tiles with various tactile patterns on each shape.

2.4 Sequencing Skills

2.5 Memory Training

Pictured are three sets of sensory tiles with four tiles in each group. The sets are broken up into sections labeled Alphabetical order, Colors, and Shapes. Tiles in the Alphabetical order set have print letters and braille letters below them; the Colors tiles have alternating solid, red circles, and green squares; and the Shapes set has colored outlines of alternating green squares and red circles.
A student—with closed eyes—shakes a blue triangle sensory tile. He then looks at the tile, and a thought bubble over his head shows a blue tile. With eyes closed again, the student explores the shape of the tile and the thought bubble remains. Finally, the boy with eyes still closed, traces the wavy lines on the tile and his thought bubble changes to three wavy line = blue tile with wavy line pattern. Below are four tiles side-by-side: A red circle tile shakes with dashed curvy lines symbolizing the sound it makes, a green square tile shakes with dot dash dot straight lines symbolizing the sound it makes, the red circle tile is repeated, and a blue triangle tile shakes with dashed straight lines symbolizing the sound it makes. Next to the four tiles is a boy with eyes closed. A thought bubble over his head shows a red circle, green square, red circle, and blue triangle.

3.0 Learning Outcome: Sensory Integration

3.1 Sight and Visual Skills

Pictured are three sets of sensory tiles. The first set consists of three solid red circle tiles and three solid green circle tiles, the second set consists of three yellow outlined pentagons and three red outlined circles, and the third set consists of three yellow pentagons with a tactile pattern and three blue triangles with a tactile pattern.

3.2 Hearing Integration

Pictured are four sets of sensory tiles and one student shaking a sensory tile. The sets are in groups of three and separated by color and shape: red circles, blue triangles, green squares, and yellow pentagons. Each set has different lines or shapes around them, symbolizing the distinct sounds made by each color/shape sensory tile. Next to the sets of tiles, a boy—with eyes closed—shakes a blue triangle tile.

3.3 Touch Integration

Pictured are two hands, each holding a different sensory tile. To the right are are two hands, each feeling the tactile side of two different sensory tiles. Below that, four tactile patterns (parallel vertical lines, curvy lines, dots, and diagonal lines) from each sensory tile are shown.

4.0 Learning Outcome: Body Concepts

4.1 Exploration of Body Parts

4.2 Bodily Awareness

Pictured are four students. One student is on her knees on the patterned side of a sensory play mat and raising one hand, one is crawling on the tile side of a sensory play mat, one is leaping between four sensory tiles, and one is rolled into a ball.

4.3 Spatial Concept

Pictured are three sets of the connected sensory play mats with a pillow cushion in the center of each set; one student is on each set. The first student is feeling the edge of his play mat area. The second student is walking from one section of the play mat to another. And the third is walking and following directions from a teacher, who has a speech bubble overhead that says, Turn left and go to the red mat.

5.0 Learning Outcome: Orientation and Motor Skills

5.1 Fine Motor Skills: Finger Manipulation

5.2 Fine Motor Skills: Wrist Twisting

Three hands: The first makes a closed fist, the second uses all finger pads to explore, and the third uses the forefinger to follow the recessed path on the sensory mat. To the right, a girl sits on a red sensory mat and uses both hands to explore the recessed circle on the sensory mat. To her right, a boy shakes a blue tile with his eyes closed.

5.3 Gross Motor Skills: Hand and Foot Muscle Training and Development

A student performs various actions in the following sequence: crawling, walking, hopping, running, jumping, and leaping over the Reach & Match cushion and a sensory play mat.

5.4 Auditory Skills

Pictured are two students identifying distance and direction (Far/Near, Front/Back) using the sounds in the sensory tiles.

6.0 Learning Outcome: Language Enrichment

6.1 Positional and Directional Words

6.2 Sensory Words (How to Describe an Object)

6.3 Question Raising

6.4 Descriptive Words

6.5 Body Concept

7.0 Additional Learning Outcomes

Social Skills

Positive Experience and Engagement

8.0 Game Ideas

Game 1: The Match Game

Equipment: 1 × Reach & Match Learning Kit
Number of Students: 1 to 2
Difficulty: ★


  1. Set the kit up in the square configuration, with the circle in the middle, and the pattern side up.
  2. Give the students the tiles, one-by-one, and use patterns or colors to instruct the students.
  3. Students must then match each tile to its relevant mat.

Learning Outcomes


To make this game more challenging and to improve the students' gross motor skills, the mats can be set up into any configuration, as long as the pattern side is up. Furthermore, the students can use sounds or shapes to identify similar tiles.

Three students and one teacher interact with the sensory play mat and tiles.

Game 2: River Crossing

Equipment: 1 × Reach & Match Learning Kit
Number of Students: 1 to 8
Difficulty: ★


  1. Set the kit up in a long pathway.
  2. Explain to students the key:
  3. Students jump toward the place that the teacher calls out. For example, when the teacher calls out “riverbank,” the students should jump toward the left side.
  4. If a student jumps toward the incorrect side, they are out.

Learning Outcomes


Game is adaptable to any theme (e.g., pirate themed: the pathway becomes a boat, one side is port, and the other side is starboard).

A teacher yells, Riverbank! and three students attempt to leap over the sensory mat; only two students make it across.

Game 3: Quicksand

Equipment: 1 × Reach & Match Learning Kit
Number of Students: 1 to 4
Difficulty: ★


  1. Teacher calls out color of the "safe" mat, and other mats turn into quicksand.
  2. Students must jump onto that color mat as soon as possible to avoid "sinking" into the quicksand.
  3. Students jump toward the place that the teacher calls out. For example, when the teacher calls out "riverbank," the students should jump toward the left side.
  4. Last one onto the "safe" mat is out.

Learning Outcomes


To vary the level of difficulty, the teacher can space out the sensory mats.

A teacher has a speech bubble beside her that says, Green! Three students are hopping from one sensory play mat to another.

Game 4: Shake, Shake, Shake It

Equipment: 1 × Reach & Match Learning Kit
Number of Students: 1 to 10
Difficulty: ★


  1. The teacher demonstrates the distinct sounds that each of the four types of tiles produce.
  2. The teacher then shakes a tile behind each student's back.
  3. Students must try to guess which tile it is by listening carefully.

Learning Outcomes

The teacher is shaking a sensory tile for two students to identify, and the students are shaking sensory tiles to try and guess which tile the teacher has.

Game 5: Hot Potato

Equipment: 1 × Reach & Match Learning Kit, a music player
Number of Students: 4 to 10
Difficulty: ★


  1. Students sit in a circle holding hands.
  2. While music plays, a tile is passed from student to student.
  3. The student holding the tile when the music stops is out.
  4. The last student playing is the winner.

Learning Outcomes

A teacher is preparing to press a button on a music player, and the students—with eyes closed—are listening to the music and passing around a sensory tile.

Game 6: Simon Says

Equipment: 1 × Reach & Match Learning Kit
Number of Students: 1 to 10
Difficulty: ★★


  1. The teacher calls out instructions starting with the phrase, "Simon says..." (e.g., "…put your left hand in the air!" "…put your right foot on the wavy patterned mat!" "…hold a red tile in your right hand!" "…turn around once!")
  2. Students must follow the instructions only when the teacher calls out "Simon says..." prior to the instruction.
  3. If a command is made without saying "Simon says…," the students should ignore it. If not, they are out.
  4. The last one still in the game is the winner.

Learning Outcomes


Allow the students to take turns at giving instructions.

In one scene, the teacher has a speech bubble that says, Simon says put your right foot on the green mat. Three students attempt to follow the directions. Two students put their right foot on the green mat and have a green check above their heads. One student does not put her foot on the green mat, and has a red X above her head. In a second scene, the teacher has a speech bubble beside him that says, Hold a round tile in your right hand! Two students do not move, and have green check marks above their heads. One student holds up a red tile and has a red X above his head.

Game 7: What Does It Feel Like?

Equipment: 1 × Reach & Match Learning Kit, a variety of different materials and objects
Number of Students: 1 to 6
Difficulty: ★★


  1. The teacher must use a collection of a variety of objects with different tactile surfaces.
  2. The teacher then groups the objects together by similar surfaces and places them in the holes the tiles usually go into.
  3. Take the students on a journey by instructing the students to run their fingers and hands along the pathway and describe what objects they feel, while teaching them the associated word that describes the surface.

Learning Outcomes

A student and her teacher sit on the sensory play mats. The teacher has a speech bubble beside her that says, This is cotton! while the student feels the texture that was placed inside the sensory play mat pockets.

Game 8: Boom, de, Clap de Clap

Equipment: 1 × Reach & Match Learning Kit
Number of Students: 1 to 10
Difficulty: ★★


  1. Using one or more tiles, the teacher creates a rhythmic pattern.
  2. Students must listen carefully and aim to reproduce the rhythmic pattern.

Learning Outcomes

While a student has his eyes closed, his teacher shakes two different tiles in a rhythmic pattern. After listening, the student repeats the rhythmic pattern with the correct sensory tiles.

Game 9: Stack It

Equipment: 1 × Reach & Match Learning Kit
Number of Students: 1 to 10
Difficulty: ★★


  1. Teams can be formed.
  2. The teacher calls out a type of tile (e.g., "Red!" or "Waves!").
  3. Students must find the correct tile and carefully stack tiles one on top of the other.
  4. The student that is able to create the tallest stack wins.

Learning Outcomes


This game can be useful when teaching information. For example, a math teacher may ask a question and if the student answers correctly, she may add another tile to her stack (acts as an innovative point system).

Two students sit on the sensory play mat. The teacher has a speech bubble beside her that says, Wave! The students are stacking the appropriate sensory tile.

Game 10: The Reach Game

Equipment: 1 × Reach & Match Learning Kit
Number of Students: 1
Difficulty: ★★


  1. Set up the mats such that the path goes from red to blue to green to yellow, with the path side up. Place the cushion at the end of the path.
  2. The students will identify the braille alphabet and place the tiles in the right pockets, in alphabetical order (i.e., A, B, C, etc.).
  3. The cushion will serve as the goal, giving the students a sense of accomplishment. The students can then trace the path to also give themselves a sense of accomplishment.

Learning Outcomes

A student feels braille letters on sensory tiles, matching them with the correct pocket shapes on the sensory play mats; he stands on the Big Round Cushion.

Game 11: Relay Run

Equipment: 1 × Reach & Match Learning Kit
Number of Students: 2 to 8
Difficulty: ★★★


  1. Form teams (can be one vs. one or groups of two or more). For example, Team Blue vs. Team Green.
  2. Each team is given a different objective (e.g., collect all green tiles).
  3. Teams line up on the Reach & Match mats.
  4. Kids take it in turns to run in a relay to find their specified tile, return and then fit it into the mat, tagging their next team member on the shoulder to go next.
  5. The team that collects all their tiles first wins.

Learning Outcomes


In order to increase the level of competition, cooperation, and creativity, ask kids to compose their own team names (e.g., the Superheroes).

Four students run back and forth to match sensory tiles to pockets on sensory play mats.

Game 12: Musical Tiles

Equipment: 1 × Reach & Match Learning Kit (ideally multiple sets), a music player
Number of Students: 3+
Difficulty: ★★★


  1. As the music plays, the students slowly walk around the circle.
  2. When the music stops, the teacher calls out an objective (e.g., "Red tiles!" or "Waves!").
  3. Students scramble to find the specified tile.
  4. If the students cannot find the tile, they are out of the game.
  5. The last one playing is the winner.

Learning Outcomes


One teacher and three students sit on the floor. The teacher has a music player and a speech bubble beside her that says, Waves! The students are reaching for various sensory tiles that are scattered on the floor, trying to find the correct tiles.

Game 13: Touch and Trade

Equipment: 1 × Reach & Match Learning Kit
Number of Students: 3 to 8
Difficulty: ★★★


  1. Each student is given five tiles and a different task (e.g., collect all blue tiles, collect all vowels, or collect tiles with three braille dots).
  2. Students have to trade with each other to complete their task.
  3. The winner is the first to finish his or her task.

Learning Outcomes

Four students play Touch and Trade. A unique task is labeled above each student's head: collect blue tiles, collect yellow tiles, collect red tiles, and collect green tiles. The students have several sensory tiles on the floor beside them, and each student holds one tile. They are walking toward each other in order to trade sensory tiles in order to complete their assigned task.

Game 14: Stop, Drop, Go Go Go!

Equipment: 1 × Reach & Match Learning Kit
Number of Students: 2 to 8
Difficulty: ★★★


  1. Prior to introducing the game to students, teachers must first teach students that each tile pattern has a significant meaning as a mobility symbol (e.g., waves suggest nearby water, circles indicate stop, straight lines indicate parallel, and the diagonal lines signifies the presence of a building). The teacher determines the meanings of the patterns.
  2. The teacher sets the sensory play mats in a line, with space in between each mat.
  3. The teacher explains the meaning of the signs on the tiles and in the game what actions correspond to each type of tile. For example, if students come across:
  4. Students run to each mat from the start to the finish line. When they land on each mat, they have to do the action/task that corresponds to the pattern on the mat.
  5. This is a race, and the winner is the one who finishes the pathway first.

Learning Outcomes


One student spins with her hands in the air on a green sensory mat, and the other student hops on one foot on a yellow sensory mat.

Game 15: Treasure Hunt for Robots

Equipment: 1 × Reach & Match Learning Kit
Number of Students: 2 to 6
Difficulty: ★★★★


  1. Pair students up: One student acts as the robot (blindfolded), and the other as the director.
  2. Create a safe obstacle course. For example, place the mat in separate sections around the room. They will act as "poison" or "dangerous areas" that if you touch you will have to start again.
  3. The director's goal is to guide the robot to find as many tiles as possible or to get the prize.
  4. The director cannot move from his or her spot.
  5. The pair with the most tiles wins.

Learning Outcomes


One student stands and speaks to a second student with a speech bubble beside him that says, Go straight! The second student is following directions and walking between sensory play mats.

Game 16: Word Wizards

Equipment: 2 × Reach & Match Learning Kit (or more)
Number of Students: 2 to 6
Difficulty: ★★★★


  1. The teacher devises a word list.
  2. Teams are formed. Each team sits with their own Reach & Match learning kit.
  3. First representative of each team goes to the teacher to hear a word.
  4. The representative must then return to the team and spell the word with the tiles without saying anything.
  5. When the team knows what the word is, they send another representative to the teacher for the next word.
  6. The first team that completes the word list wins.

Learning Outcomes

A teacher has a speech bubble that says, H.O.M.E. One student then spells the word with sensory tiles while a second student tries to figure out which word is being spelled.

Create Your Own Ideas

Now it's your turn to write down your own activity and game ideas. Feel free to share them with us:

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Resources Used in the Development of Reach & Match