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Applying Purpose to Counting

A mother shares ideas for helping young children with visual impairments understand number concepts and counting

Young girl on trampolineI have previously mentioned in my blogs about my daughter’s disdain of handling and exploring items unless they vibrate or sing! Counting for Scarlett has never been a problem as many musical toys incorporate the number sequence, which she can easily mimic. The challenge has been to figure out how to change it from a recalled sequence of numbers to the act of actually counting and then helping Scarlett to understand what all these numbers mean.
Well, building on Scarlett’s love of the water and gross motor activities, I have created two new games in which she has started using counting in the correct way.  Most importantly she is learning by doing something she loves!
First I have discovered that the bath is a great location for learning and encouraging increased levels of engagement.  Scarlett’s water baby nature means she is very open to any games or interaction I try to encourage in that environment.  So how did I use the bath and its watery contents to get Scarlett to understand the concept of counting?
Water flute
The water flute is something musical and fun for Scarlett to listen to.  It uses different water levels to create a different key  and  the flute has always been something Scarlett has enjoyed.  So I applied a verbal prompt to blow the flute… 1, then I blew the flute once, then 2, and I blew the flute twice, and so on.  I completed the sequence up to 10 and Scarlett listened intently throughout. After completing the sequence a number of times Scarlett began to instigate the game by starting off the counting sequence herself.  This was a great triumph, and a great way to keep her engaged!  My most important note of progress was was that when using this game Scarlett began to say numbers out of sequence, so instead of just following the normal route of 1-10, she requested 5 flute blows.  This showed that she wasn’t just mimicing, but that she had really started to understand the meaning of different numbers.
Young girl jumping on trampolineThe second game uses Scarlett’s trampoline. I start the game off with “On your mark, get ready, go” and then start counting. Scarlett jumps at each number I say and stops when I reach twenty. She expresses a lot of joy when she reaches 20 bounces and I give her lots of praise. I have developed this game further by adding an action during the game…. either “on your bum” or “on you knees”.  So for example, I will give the verbal clue that the game is ready to start and begin counting, then I add an action, which Scarlett happily follows.  This is a great achievement for Scarlett as following instructions isn’t necessarily her strong point, but using instructions which are focused around gross motor movements, counting and trampolining has helped Scarlett develop in a variety of areas.
The next challenge is for her generalise the skill when she is introduced to instructions in a variety of settings. “Scarlett will you please walk this way with mummy…  Wish me luck!
Collage of young girl jumping on trampoline



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