Numicon-Based Math Activities for Preschoolers with (or without) Down Syndrome

Last spring, I read more research by Sue Buckley, Joanna Nye, and colleagues about educating young children with Down Syndrome; this time it was about teaching math. They ran a study in the early 2000s assessing the effectiveness of the Numicon System in helping young children with T21 develop basic number skills.

Their findings were promising:

The key benefits of using Numicon for children with Down syndrome in the classroom are:
• The materials and methods clearly support the development of early number concepts, and in particular the ability to calculate – for some children, using Numicon enabled them to develop these skills for the first time
• It enables teaching staff to ‘see’ what the child is thinking, which is important for identifying both successes and confusions in the child’s understanding
• It can be used to support everyday number skills such as time and money
• It is especially beneficial to children who use a visual and/or multi-sensory approach to learning
• Children are motivated to engage with the materials as they are so attractive, and they develop confidence in maths work as they can succeed with the materials
• The clear structure of the teaching system is useful for teaching staff looking for a way to differentiate the numeracy curriculum.
The benefit of using the Numicon approach was seen most clearly at the stage when the children were learning to manipulate numbers – to add, subtract and multiply.

Teaching Number Skills to children with Down Syndrome using the Numicon Foundation Kit

Of course, I had to go purchase the kit and play math with Junior. And being very pleased with Junior’s progress, I shared the 50-page study with my sister. As many of you know, she also has a young son with special needs. Quickly she emailed me back: TLTR. (Too Long to Read) Can you write up a dummies version?

Of course I can. So this post is for my sister and all other super busy moms who want to know how to teach basic number skills to young kids with or without T21.

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Teaching Children with Down Syndrome to Read with See and Learn: More Free Resources

As many of you know, I’ve been teaching Junior to read using Down Syndrome Education’s See and Learn series. Teaching Junior to read has been one of the most gratifying experiences in all my years of homeschooling because he is so eager to learn. One of the things that keeps him motivated is getting to read new books. Every time I bring home a big bag of new books from the library it’s like Christmas… he’s that excited. Then Junior sits on the floor and digs into the bag, happily flipping through each of the books and lining them up neatly as he finishes each one.

To keep him motivated and to give him continual review of previously learned words, I make him books using the words he has learned from See and Learn and from the Faith and Freedom Primer.

A few posts ago, I shared some books I made to go with See and Learn Phrases 1 and 2. Here are ten free books to supplement See and Learn Phrases 2 and 3.

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Let’s Learn Letters! Early Handwriting Skills for Preschoolers with (or without) Down Syndrome

Last spring, I began teaching Junior to write letters. The more I work with him, the more I realize that he is capable of so much — I just need to find the right materials for him and/or make adaptations.

When all my other kids were preschoolers, we used materials from Handwriting Without Tears. However, while Junior is able to use the Wood Pieces Set for Capital Letters with ease, but he is not ready for the other materials.

So I made my own handwriting worksheets for him:

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Renaissance Art Masterpieces for Elementary Students

A Happy New School Year to you!!!

Here’s a little gift for those of you who like to do picture study with your kids: a collection of eighteen Renaissance Art Masterpieces with a bit of background information and questions that encourage close observation.

Because exposing our kids to lovely art is so important.

Renaissance artists believed in the beauty and nobility of mankind – a belief so sorely lost in today’s society. All the more reason, then, to help our children study and enjoy the masterpieces of the Renaissance artists, which radiate with goodness and beauty.

So without further ado, here are some sample cards and what we’re doing with them:

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Faith and Freedom Primer B – Adapted for Children with Down Syndrome

Here is part 2 of the Faith and Freedom Primer, which I adapted for children with Down Syndrome. The original book, published by Seton Educational Media, has three parts. This is the second part. You can find the first part here.

The Faith and Freedom Primer an excellent tool for teaching children to read high-frequency sight words with fluency. Once a word is introduced, it is used repeatedly throughout the book so you child does not forget it. Junior has learned to read all three parts of the primer, and he is now learning to read the next book in this series without any adaptations!

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Story of Civilization Vol. 2 Medieval World: FREE Workbook Supplement

Here’s a free resource for those of you using Tan’s Story of Civilization Vol. 2 this fall. It’s a BIG one…. 180+ pages! My friend Sue Clement and I collaborated on this project. We love Story of Civilization, but we wanted our kids to think critically about what they have learned and to have cumulative reviews.

This resource includes:

  • vocabulary lists
  • dates for a timeline
  • book suggestions for each chapter
  • map work suitable for older students (Gr. 5-8)
  • critical thinking questions that encourage students to think beyond the page and to make connections with previously learned material
  • cumulative reviews after every other chapter.
  • And, of course, a complete answer key.

It’s a HUGE project, which took a lot of time. (I think we burned some Purgatory time working on it). So I hope your kids will benefit from it.

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The Faith and Freedom Primer Adapted for Children with Down Syndrome

Once in a while I come across a pedagogical gem. The Faith and Freedom Primer is one of these. It is actually a combination of 3 smaller books, written in the 1950s to teach children how to sight read high frequency words. I’ve used it with all of my kids to teach them how to read sight words alongside teaching them how to decode phonetically. The book is a gem not just because it teaches children to read sightwords incrementally and systematically, but also because it portrays the Catholic faith and family life in a gentle and beautiful way.

Since Junior had been learning to read sight words with See and Learn Phrases, I decided to adapt the Faith and Freedom Primer according to the recommendations laid out by Natalie Hale, in her book Whole Child Reading. Junior would often pull the original primer off our bookshelf and pretend to read it, so I thought, “Why not adapt it for him and see if he can learn to read it?”

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The Big List of Effective Consequences (a.k.a. What to do When You Butt Heads with Your Kids)

I hope you were able to attend some of the talks at last month’s Catholic Homeschool Conference. After 14+ years of homeschooling, I still find there is always something new to learn.

Browsing through some of the comments and chat feed, I was reminded that many parents really struggle with getting their kids to obey and/or do their school work:

We started homeschooling last year The transition from public school (4 boys) has been challenging.

I’ve got two boys and am trying to homeschool them the last two years and it’s not going well… I can’t get them to do work.

“Finding the right practical consequence is what I find hard to think of when they do disobey.

“Obedience is one of the hardest things to master as a parent with children.”

Yes, I know. I’ve been there.

So, as an addendum to my talk on “How to Get Your Kids to Obey”, I’m sharing this big bad list of effective consequences.  It really helps to know ahead of time what you’re going to do if your child flat out refuses to complete a math assignment, or argues about having to take out the garbage, or  has gotten into the terrible habit of ignoring you every time you ask him/her to do something.

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Free Resources for Teaching Children with Down Syndrome to Read

Several weeks ago, I read the book Whole Child Reading: A Quick Start Guide to Teaching Students with Down Syndrome and Other Developmental Delays. If you have a child with developmental delays, I highly recommend reading this book. It’s a fast, easy read with useful insights into how the brain works and many practical applications. The gist of the book is to go in through the heart by using stories and topics that are highly interesting and motivating to the student and then to teach to the brain by understanding how children with T21 learn best.

In the book, author Natalie Hale gives specific instructions on how to format and make your own books so that your kids can read with greater ease and success. So I began making books. I made personal books, because Junior, like most kids, likes to read about himself and his family. I also made books using words from the See and Learn Phrases kits.

Today I’m sharing some of these books:

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