Tag Archives: down syndrome homeschool preschool

A Conversation With Noah

Strangest thing happened tonight.

I had a chat with my Noah (5 – with Down syndrome).

He was engrossed with his Duplos which he suddenly has a renewed interest in.   I was walking by and I said, “Whatcha building?”

You know how when you have a child who has a speech delay, you ask questions that you never expect to get an answer to?

He looked up at me and signed, clear as a bell, “house.”

“House, you’re building a house?”

Then he signed “bathtub.” 

Okay, a house with a bathtub in it.

The he signed “bath” again and pointed to me.

I had given him a bath earlier this evening, so I said, “Yes, I gave you a bath, didn’t I?”

He smiled and said his “Da,” which means yes.

We were conversing.  It wasn’t a script, it wasn’t our typical speech therapy at home exchange.  We were taking turns having a conversation. 

And he had his own thought he wanted to communicate to me – that he remembered the bath I gave him.

And he was pretending – engaging in imaginative play – not just stacking Duplos – he was building a house.

With a bathtub.

I know people who celebrate each milestone like this with each of their children.  I could never do it.  I just wasn’t that impressed.  Kids are kids.  Of course they play, of course they build, of course they talk.

And then came Noah.



Announcing the New Hugry Guppy App by Motion Math

Last Thursday was a big day for the folks over at www.motionmathgames.com with their release of Hungry Guppy, a preschool version of the ever-popular (over 1 million users) Hungry Fish app.

From the App Store comes this description of Hungry Guppy:

“Your 3- to 7-year-old will learn numbers and basic addition with this delightful game. It’s easy to play – simply drag bubbles together to add them, then feed the dots to your fish.

From the award-winning creators of Motion Math: Hungry Fish, Hungry Guppy is an interactive way for preschool and early elementary school children to build a strong concept of addition and to understand what numbers represent. For example, “●●●” and “3” have the same meaning.

“I’ve never seen my 3-year-old do any sort of math before…I assumed she wouldn’t be ready for the kind of reasoning necessary for a math game. But no, she was clearly ready.” – Jessica, mother

Motion Math: Hungry Guppy features a fish who loves to eat numbers, with 15 total levels:
– In the Dots levels, young children who don’t yet know numbers can practice addition. They’ll learn, for example, that ● + ●● makes ●●●.
– In the Mixed levels, kids will learn number symbols. For example, ●●● and 3 have the same meaning.
– In the Numbers levels, learners can practice adding numbers up to 5, seeing the different ways to make a sum.
– Fun graphics, music, and customizable colors make Hungry Guppy an experience children will enjoy for hours.”


Click on the screen shot to go to Hungry Math’s home page for download.

App: Motion Math – Hungry Guppy
Ages – 3-7 years
Cost – $2.99
4-1/2 out of 5 stars

Motion Math Hungry Guppy is a delightful addition to the Motion Math app family. This time preschoolers and early elementary mathematicians are invited to feed the hungry guppy dots and numbers that either alone or combined equal the number on the guppy. Bella (4), Seth (2) and Noah (5) Down syndrome have all been able to succeed at least on the introductory level.

There are three levels of play, dots, numerals and mixed; and then each level allows you to choose a starting fish of 1 which advances to 2, 2 which advances to 3, or 4 which advances to 5. There is also the option of colored versus black dots.

What I love about this game is that it uses dots and numerals consistently with the way the best early math programs use them to teach math. The home button is small and is located in the top left corner of the screen, conveniently out of the way of clumsy little fingers. The dot/number bubbles are easily tapped and dragged to the fish – a nice opportunity for a little hand-eye tracking for the OT in all of us. In typical Motion Math fashion, the Hungry Guppy screen is attractive yet uncluttered; there are no cutesy or flashy graphics to distract your little one other than the adorable guppy and number bubbles.

To progress beyond the intro level, which requires the player to drag each bubble to the fish’s mouth, your child will need some basic instruction on numeral to dot correspondence, i.e., two dots are the same as the number 2; one dot dragged to one dot equals two dots.  For some ideas on instruction, see how Motion Math did it at http://motionmathgames.com/designing-for-preschoolers-the-making-of-hungry-guppy/

Another things I love about this app is when a bubble is touched, its numerical value is spoken so your child is not only seeing the numbers but is also hearing them.  When a number is added to another bubble, the original number and the new number are spoken in progression. 

I appreciate the effort Hungry Guppy goes to make sure this is not just a simpler version of Hungry Fish.  The developers have built-in features that make it very user friendly for our youngest app users.  Two very important features are:

1.  There are no losers in Hungry Guppy.  The game allows you to take as long as you need to feed the guppy.  The guppy gets smaller the longer it goes without food, but it never completely disappears.

2.  The guppy number dos not increase to the next number unless it is fed the matching numbers quickly.  This means that younger children or children with special needs are given the opportunity to master one number and board before graduating to the next.

There are two things I’d like to see added to Hungry Guppy.  One is a little more pizzazz as one level is completed and the next begins.  That would provide some additional positive reinforcement for those who need it.

The other thing I’d add is a longer introduction and hands-on practice for the player as to the concept of counting dots and number recognition.  The introduction provided is fine for the parent or teacher, but it is too brief to be helpful to young children; and for the $2.99 price for Hungry Guppy, I’d like to see a more thorough explanation and opportunity for the child to understand the game before it begins.

All in all, cheers to Motion Math for Hungry Guppy, a valuable addition to our homeschool preschool apps and a great choice for children learning number values and addition up to 5.

Duplo Numbers

While we’ve got the Duplos out . . .
Here are some Duplos we turned into counting blocks just by adding stickers.

Noah did a great job sorting these first by number (all the 1s together, all the 2s together, etc). The fact they were also coded by color helped him achieve success the first time. Once he had them in the right stacks, I pointed out the numbers on each Duplos and used the word same (“One, one, one. These are all the same”).

Next, I had him make stacks with the 1, 2 and 3. Again, since he already knows his colors, the fact that these are color-coded provided a great foundation to “build” his new counting skill upon. Incidentally, this activity is a good example of sequence being a pre-math skill. First a child learns to sequence colors, blue, yellow, green; later they sequence numbers, 1, 2, 3.

I love, love, love being able to make teaching materials out of things I already have! I think the materials being familiar to Noah (5-Down syndrome) give him that little extra confidence that helps his willingness in trying a new skill. And, gee, we need all the help we can get.