As we are getting into addition, an important concept we are trying to master is counting on from one number to the next. In the book Teaching Math to People with Down Syndrome they offer some ways to help teach the concept. They suggest playing games with dice and count on from the first dice to add the second. You can count money starting with a $5 or $10 dollar bill. They also suggested laying out a number line that goes to 20 and throwing out random playing cards (with the face cards removed and using aces as ones) and counting up to 20 from whatever card is thrown.
Another idea that my husband came up with involved an abacus I had purchased but have yet to use. While this game does not use it in the manner in which it was intended, it is a great visual tool to help Gess count on and she has found it more interesting then just throwing out one random card to count from.
First we took the playing cards that already had the face cards removed and used aces as ones. I then sorted the cards by color. I had one stack of black cards (spades and clubs) and one stack of red cards (diamond and hearts). I laid them out in front of the abacus with the black deck first and the red deck second. We would throw one card up from each deck. Now Gess would go to the top row on her abacus (which had dark blue, almost black looking beads) and count the number that corresponded to her black card deck. Then she would do the same with the second row (which happened to have red beads). It would look like this:
Then I would have her point to the last bead on the upper row and say whatever number that was. In this case it was a 5. Then we would count on from that number on the row of red beads adding the total of the two cards.
Out of all the activities we have tried, I think this one has been the most successful and most fun for Gess. It's a game we will play often. I think I will also look for other ways to use the abacus in our daily math lessons.