Thursday, October 28, 2010

Another Year Older - Gess' 9th Birthday

I can't believe my last post was way back on October 2nd! I really try to do one post a week, but this month has been crazy. I hope to get back on track now. One thing this month has brought us was Gess' birthday celebration. She certainly couldn't wait to be 9!
Gess knows she is "growing up" and constantly tells me how she can't wait until she is 18 and passes the test so she can drive. Man, they sure want to skip all the good times don't they? One day Gess kept frantically pointing to her leg. I asked her what was the matter. She said "My leg! My leg is growing, it's growing into 9!" Yes, my literal little girl figured her leg was literally growing "up" on the one day that is her birthday! You just gotta love moments like that!
But to help her slow down on the "growing up" thing and settle down to enjoy the moments until then I figured I would share the neatest gift Gesserine got for her birthday. It was given to her by her brother and his girlfriend. They are so creative in the gift giving department and this gift will not only be fun and educational it will help her create those precious memories that she will cherish for all time. The gift they got her was the book 101 Things You Gotta Do Before You're 12!


This beautifully illustrated book has lists of neat things for kids to try and do. From seeing an eclipse or meteor shower to inventing a new game or sport these activities will help them expand their knowledge, see new sights, and experience life in fun and exciting ways. They gave this gift along with a promise to help her once each month to work on something on the list. I am actually typing the list up so she can check off each one as she accomplishes it. I think we all are going to love this one!
Of course there are some things on it she has already done. For instance just last month she rode a real train (though I think it would be fun to actually take a trip that leaves the city), she has played in the mud and watched something grow. But there are many more things I want her to experience as a child. I think this is really a neat way to help your child explore life and the world around them, especially a child with special needs who might just need that extra bit of help learning about new things.
So, my little girl is now 9. This is her last year in the single digits. Oh where does the time go? I can tell you this, 9 years ago I had no idea just how smart my daughter would be. I was bombarded with all that was wrong with her, but thankfully I did not focus on that for very long. Now, each and every day, we are determined to keep finding what new things Gess can learn and do. We focus on what's right with her and believe me, there is just too much to celebrate that we never really find time to complain or worry about the things she can't yet do.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Counting On - Basic Addition Concept

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.

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