Three-Syllable Word Cards for Articulation… and Teaching Ornery Kids

Does your child need practice articulating three-syllable words? For many children with T21, difficulty with phonemic and short term memory is one of the causes of language delay. This really becomes evident when they try to remember how to say multi-syllabic words or construct sentences.

As a former piano teacher, I am noticing the similarity between teaching the language of music to typically developing children and teaching language to a child with Down Syndrome. For typically developing children (and adults!) learning to improvise on the piano can only occur after *a lot* of practice with scales and chord progressions. Similarly, it seems that for Junior, learning to “improvise” in speech only occurs after lots of practice with carrier phrases and repetition with words that are hard to articulate. Frankly, I’m hoping that at some point something will just “click” and he’ll start talking in complete sentences. But I’m still waiting for that to happen.

In the meanwhile, we’re working on articulating difficult sounds such as /h/ and /y/, and we’re working on three syllable words. We practice these at the word level and at the sentence level. And we practice them in scripted conversations. Moreover, because the written word has become a very powerful visual prompt, Junior is also learning to read these words by sight and partly by sounding out.

Of course we want to practice words that he will actually use in daily life. So, for this summer I made this set of flashcards for articulation practice and sight reading.

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Teaching Children with Down Syndrome to Read with See and Learn: Ten More Free Books!

For those of you using DSE’s See and Learn Reading Program, here are ten more free books. These books are meant to go with See and Learn Sentences 1. Each book reinforces new words and reviews old ones. New books keep my little guy highly motivated, which I why I keep making them 🙂

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Let’s Learn Colors! Montessori-inspired worksheets for Preschoolers with (or without) Down Syndrome

Teaching preschoolers with T21 about colors can be challenging. Many of these kids have difficulty generalizing. It’s one thing for them to understand that a banana is a banana. But abstract concepts such as colors are harder to grasp. A banana is yellow and a lemon is yellow? It takes time for kids to understand that a color is an attribute and not an object of itself.

However, the Montessori method of matching, selecting, and naming is really effective at helping children to generalize. Developing the skills of matching, selecting, naming, and reading has really opened the door of learning for Junior. So nerdy mom here has made these worksheets to help Junior learn his colors, generalize them to real objects, and read the written words :

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12 Great Christmas Gifts for Preschoolers with Down Syndrome

“Oh well, I do nothing but shop all day.” This is a quote from St. Zelie Martin, the mother of St. Therese of Lisieux. I think any mother of a large family can relate… I certainly do! My kids are constantly outgrowing and outwearing everything. She goes on to write, “Your father says, amusingly, that it is a passion with me! It is no use explaining to him that I have no choice; he finds it hard to believe.” (Letter 143)

I find these words so consoling, especially nowadays when I feel I have stupendous amounts of Christmas shopping to do. A saint shopping all day… can you image? Shopping seems so materialistic, but we can find holiness even in shopping if we do it out of love for our family and friends.

So for those of you with littles, here are some Christmas gift ideas to make your shopping a little easier:

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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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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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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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Teaching Preschoolers with Down Syndrome to Read – Part 2 (And Why We’re not doing Phonics, Yet)

Last post, I shared some videos showing how Junior is learning to read using See and Learn Phrases by Down Syndrome Education. We demonstrated the first four steps of learning to read using sight words.

Today, I’m sharing videos of the last two steps and discussing why we’re breezing through with sight words instead of slogging through phonics.

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