Just two months ago, Matthew didn't have a good grasp of early number concepts. I had been teaching him to count up to 3. I hadn't taught him to count from 1 to 10. I had been showing him the difference between big and small as well as same and different, which are prenumber concepts. But I hadn't been doing it as often as I feel I should have. I had been reading counting books to him like "Very Hungry Caterpillar" but he was more interested in other books two months ago.
If I asked him to give me 1 block, he would give me whatever he could hold in his hand. He was excellent at matching and sorting shapes and colors though.
In an effort to teach Matthew the concept of counting, identifying and naming numerals, and sight reading number words zero to ten, we counted everything of high interest to him like crackers, toys, steps, and many other things. We read more counting books. We sang more counting songs. I made number word flashcards since I was also teaching him sight words.
I also made a "Counting Crackers" video for him using my photos of goldfish crackers and Windows Movie Maker. He loves goldfish crackers, looking at photos, learning to sight read new words and watching videos. It was a huge hit and he evidently learned from it.
He can now count from 1 to 10 in the correct order and without prompting, also known as rote counting. He is also beginning to count objects by pointing to them one to one. He can now recognize numerals and number words zero to ten. He says "two" and "eight" the clearest.
The other day, while eating goldfish crackers, I asked him to give me two crackers. I held my hand out and he put two crackers in my hand, one cracker at a time.
Early Math Resources
The Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County's (DSFOC) "The Learning Program" offers materials for free on their website. Registration required. They have an "Everyday Math" handout with plenty of activity ideas for prenumber concepts and early number concepts. Prenumber concepts include sorting, comparing objects and patterning. Early number concepts include rote counting, counting with meaning and number symbol (numeral) recognition.
For a more multi-sensory approach to learning math using manipulatives, there are teaching resources like Numicon, which was developed in the UK and is available at downsed USA's online store, or Math-U-See, which was designed by a math teacher and father of a child with Down syndrome. It looks like the DSFOC's Learning Program uses Numicon.
We decided to try Numicon so I ordered the Firm Foundations kit and the book to adapt it specifically for kids with Down syndrome. Beth at Hannah's Shenanigans shares her daughter's experience using Numicon in several blog entries. At this time, I have no blog links to share for personal experiences with Math-U-See.
The book "Teaching Math to People with Down Syndrome and Other Hands-On Learners" by DeAnna Horstmeier also has many activities for learning prenumber and early number concepts.