Posted by: Susan | August 24, 2010

Happy Reading-reading aloud to our kids with Down syndrome

The space shuttle Challenger was named after what famous British ship?  Did you know the answer?  I learned this because I read to my kids a lot and often.  They prefer it when their dad does the reading.  He actually has the nickname-Library Lady.  He uses different voices, accents, and crazy things thrown into the story.

The book we are reading is from the Magic Tree House series-Dark Day in the Deep Sea.  The answer to the above question is the H.M.S. Challenger, a British navy vessel that was the first scientific exploration ship in the history of the world.  Wow!  This teaching opportunity is too good to pass up.  I did a computer search on the ship’s name and came up with some great sites.  The kids have taken a virtual tour of a model of the ship and  checked out the laboratory.  On another site they have seen a map of the ship’s route.  We got out our atlas and located the British Isles and looked at the route.  We reviewed the continents.  The expedition took 4 years and we explained to the kids this time frame- if you were 10 when you left you would be 14 when you got home.  We also talked about the fact that life jackets, during that time period, were made of cork.  My great idea was to show them a cork from a wine bottle.  “Hey guys, this is the stuff that  life jackets were made from.  It is actually tree bark that is harvested and then the tree grows the bark back.  Now a different material is used in the life jackets (explanation given).  OK, where does cork come from?”  Jake’s answer-“from bottles.”  We will be working on this more by showing pictures on the computer today.  We also find new vocabulary words and review daily.  The current word we are working on is “squall”.  Today we will go to the library and get lots of books on ocean life, marine biology, and cork trees.  Maybe I will just open up another bottle of wine to show them more cork:)  Reading usually happens at the table after lunch or dinner.  We read just a chapter unless I get so involved in the book I have to read more. This whole process takes 15 or 20 minutes.  It is an easy, natural way to learn.

We are enjoying the last few days at the pool with after dinner swims and walks.

Happy Reading.  Make it visual, make it fun and extend the book by using the great resources found on the computer, around your home and at the library.


  1. Awesome, awesome, awesome!

    • Thanks Andi. Can’t wait for you to see my Life Skills posting coming soon. Susan Good luck tomorrow.

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