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A muffin tin is a favorite and versatile teaching aid for many itinerant teachers. A six-count muffin tin is a simple replica of the six-dot braille cell, and the twelve and twenty-four count tins provide a contained space to place, sort, hold and locate small items in an organized way that encourages systematic scanning. Here are a few simple ideas for ways to “play” with a muffin tin while also teaching and reinforcing many skill areas.

Braille Awareness

A half-dozen muffin pan can be used with tennis balls to teach the position of dots in the braille cell. The braille cell is made up of six dots, and different combinations of dots represent different letters. You can add or take away balls to represent different letters.

Can you use the braille chart to make all the letters of the alphabet using your muffin tin and tennis balls?

Empty Braille Cell that has 2 columns with 3 dots in each column. In the left column from top to bottom is dots 1, 2, 3. In the right column from top to bottom is dots 4, 5, 6. Beside a half dozen muffin tin positioned vertically with tennis balls in each cup.

Sensory Exploration

Collect a box of odds and ends with interesting sensory qualities and see how you can explore and sort them using your senses. Highlight descriptive vocabulary words to increase your child’s ability to communicate about her/his experiences (e.g., rough, fragrant). You can even make a muffin tin graph.

24-cup mini muffin tin with objects organized by sensory features (see, smell, hear, touch). Print graph of what is represented in the muffin tin to the right. Unsorted objects on left.

Following Directions

Use a 12 cup muffin tin and play the game “What did you find?” using directions.

For example, ask your child: “What’s in row 3, column 4? Describe it.” OR “Start in the top left hand cup. Move down 2 and to the right 4 cups. Describe it.”

12-cup muffin tin with one household item in each cup.

Listening Skills

Play with sound using a muffin tin. Use wooden spoons or metal spoons to make music on the muffin tin. Place tin foil, a towel, bubble wrap on the muffin tin and explore how the sound changes when you make music.


At snack or mealtime, place a variety of foods (whatever you are eating as a family) in a muffin tin. Emphasize the initial sound of the word when your child touches it then state the beginning letter. Ie: applesauce starts with “a”.

Check out Phonological Food List for an alphabetical list of foods.

Spatial Understanding

Using a muffin tin, ask your child to place an object in the following positions: top, bottom, under, over, right, left, front, back, in, out.

For example: have your child place an object in any of the middle cups of the muffin tin. Then ask them to place an object to the right of that object and then to the left of that object and so on.