Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Skip Counting Song Video

Skip counting is one of the challenges we faced last school year. Gess seems to get the tens fairly well (though she often omits 30). but she still struggles with the fives and twos. Math U See has a CD with songs including some for skip counting but I have never purchased it. One of the reasons is that in the videos and material they do warn you not to let them get accustomed to singing them because ultimately he wants them to say them by rote. It's important for math. So I am thinking I am not going to teach her one way and then try to undo it. So I decided to not use the CD.

In the mean time I was looking for something to help Gess learn skip counting and I came across this video on Youtube. I like it because there is singing during the chorus but they do not actually sing when they are counting. Gess really loves it and it seems to have helped some. I do think that it is somewhat confusing because it teaches all three concepts at once. Because of that I recommend using it only after you have studied skip counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s, or just use the parts of the video that go with each respective lesson. Feel free to share other skip counting resources that you use. We still needs some work in this area and I am always open to suggestions!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Already Learning Algebra!

We are using the Math-U-See curriculum and so far we are really pleased with the results. Having blocks to use to work out all your problems is really beneficial for hands on learners, which Gess definitely is. We are still in the Primer that we did not quite complete last year and we finally got to a section that introduces algebra! It calls the section "Solving for the Unknown." I was not really certain if I should try such a concept with Gess but since she seemed to get everything else, including place values, I figured I would give it a try.

Gess did struggle a little bit on day one as she was simply used to solving the problem and answering with the final result. Once we would find the "unknown" she still wanted to answer the actual problem, not tell you what went in the blank. However, by day two she was really getting it and now has really mastered the concept! Granted this is very simple algebraic equations using a question mark and blank instead of a letter, but still, you can see that she got it.

Here is how it works in the Math-U-See book.

They have the problem written such as _____ + 1 = 7 . Then it has an outline for the unknown and the other shape of the number blocks that come with the kit. As you can see, she has placed the blocks in the appropriate spot, now she has to search her other blocks to find out what number fits into the unknown (?) slot.

Once she finds the appropriate block (which I keep lined up in numerical order for her) she puts it in place and make sure it fits. She even says to herself "let's try this one" or "let's try six." Of course there are times she tries the wrong block and when it is too short or long she knows it is not the right answer. Once she gets it right, I then ask again, so what is the unknown? She affirms that it is six and then writes the 6 in the blank at the top of the original problem.

The blocks are all color coded with each number having a different color which also helps them gather the right one more quickly. They can then color in the blocks on the paper with the appropriate color but to me that is simply unnecessary work. We quit doing that awhile back, though at first it did help her learn what numbers were what colors.

Anyway, she really seemed to enjoy her algebra and I am impressed both with her skills and the Math-U-See curriculum which seems to make it all so easy!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Creative Writing Journal

As I prepared to begin school this year I was looking through my Teaching Reading to Children With Down Syndrome book to see if there were any other ideas I could use along the regular reading curriculum we are using. Gess' reading skills are going quite well so I was reading the chapter on writing and spelling. While I am using Handwriting Without Tears to teach Gess how to write her letters, I am not currently doing anything to teach her about creative writing. Other than answering questions and beginning to write dictated sentences, Gess doesn't use her writing skills very much. Well the book on Teaching Reading had a great idea that I am implementing this year.

I guess most public schools start creative writing journals in Kindergarten. During that year and much of first grade the journal consists only of pictures. Next they move on to open sentences. The example she gave in the book was the sentence "I had fun this weekend." They would copy the sentence and then draw a picture about what they did that weekend. This is such a great idea for Gess because she struggles being able to answer questions or talk about what she did over the course of the weekend or even one day. Now she will not only learn to write, but this will teach her to communicate about what she has experienced or learned. This will enhance much of what we are doing in her speech therapy sessions like answering WH questions, etc.

We have decided to write about something she learned each day in school. To do this I found a Primary Journal by Mead because it not only has lines for the writing but a space at the top to draw a picture as well.

Each day at the end of school I asked Gess "What did you learn in school today?" She usually answers "God." Well, that is true as we usually have a Bible story, but she apparently does not understand the question. So I will ask her what did you do in math, or science but she still does not seem to understand what I am asking her. So for now, I am guiding her to answer the question by showing her the physical material such as the workbook or page she did in that subject. I try to focus on different subjects each day because I want her to understand that "school" means all those things and not confuse her by thinking that school only means reading, or math, etc.

So in her journal I write the Sentence "Today in school I learned about..." and I have her write one word to finish the sentence and then draw the picture. This day she learned about Joseph in our bible story.

The next day we learned about "hundreds" in math, "manners" in health and today it was "rain" in science. I think this will be a great way to help my daughter learn to answer the question "What did you do today?" Each year we will expand how much she writes and how much information she gives. I think this is a simple way to start.

In the book Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome it gives several ideas to use if your child's writing skills are lacking such as drawing pictures, using a keyboard or fill in the blank journals where they can either write or circle the answer that goes in the blank. I am sure there are many creative ways to teach our children to write creatively, this is one idea that we will be trying this year.

Friday, August 7, 2009

First Day of School!

I had not planned on starting school for several weeks because I am waiting to get through Gess' surgery. However, there are other circumstances that had us start a bit early.

One is that we were both anxious to get started. As I was organizing and arranging our school room and materials to get ready, Gess kept wanting to "do" school. I love that she loves school, so who am I to say no, right? She was so anxious to start she even woke up extra early.

There is also another matter. I found out that I am expecting an addition to our family. I am due to deliver in March, which is perfect, for we will take that week as our spring break. However, I know the adjustment will be hard on Gess, not to mention how tired I will be! I figure if we get an early start now we can take 2 weeks or more off when the baby is born. Between the extra week or two this month and any time we need to make up over the summer, I think the adjustment will go rather smoothly. My mom has also volunteered to come help with the baby when I start school back up if need be, so I am sure things will work out. I just want some wiggle room and flexibility so we can enjoy the first few weeks getting to know our new baby without fretting over getting behind in school.

With that said, I will share some photos of her first day at school. Here is Gess as she started the 2nd grade!


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