2. Numeracy Software for dyslexic learners.
Numbershark, Dynamo Maths, Sums, MathBase, Number Gym,
Flying Carpet, Chefren’s Pyramid, MathMania, ConquerMaths.
3. Problem solving.
Maths Circus, Zoombinis Adventures,
4. Web based resources.
Nodehill Maths, BBC, I.C.T. Games.
Literacy has always been the first priority for dyslexic learners, but some of the learning difficulties can affect numeracy and maths as well. Maths involves memory, sequencing, direction, vocabulary and problem solving strategies, as well as calculations.
Many people’s problems with maths arise from lack of understanding of basic concepts. It is important to use concrete materials and discussion to overcome this. However computer programs can be useful for practice of basic skills and for developing problem solving. As with assistive technology for literacy, users need to be taught how to use a calculator efficiently. Teachers also need to realise that a calculator can be a useful teaching tool and not just an excuse to avoid mental arithmetic.
Learning basic number facts such as tables can be a particular problem for dyslexic learners, yet access to higher levels of maths often depends on this. A computer can be helpful in providing practice, giving immediate feedback without criticism.
Whilst many people perceive maths, and arithmetic in particular, as series of procedures to be memorized, it is far more helpful to approach new ideas as problems to be solved. A method that suits one learner may not be the same as that for another. Problem solving skills are essential in applying basic facts to everyday situations. There are some good and enjoyable programs to enhance these skills.
2. Numeracy Software for dyslexic learners.
There are many programs to suit learners of all ages. This is just a selection of some which have been found particularly useful for dyslexic learners and others, who may need some extra support in maths.
For general numeracy practice:
Numbershark 4 (Age 5 to 16 years).
Numbershark is by the makers of Wordshark and has the same type of colourful, fun graphics in structured learning tasks and a similar range of enjoyable reward games. It covers number recognition, sorting, the four main rules of numbers, i.e. addition, subtraction, multiplication and division as well as decimals, fractions and percentages.
It gives users the chance to build up confidence, and the opportunity to practise those aspects of numbers that worry them, in an enjoyable way. Study of the manual by the supervising adult is essential as there are so many options.
Web: White Space.
A Three Stage On-line programme to develop Number Sense and Numeracy Proficiency. Dynamo Maths has been developed through extensive research and with the support of Dyscalculia practitioners. It gives children a strong foundation for the early development of Number Sense.
Dynamo Maths tackles early maths skills such as: Patterns, Bonds of 10, Number facts, Shape and Space, Place Value, Telling the time, Money Fractions, Pictograms etc. The programme addresses over 20 Dyscalculia difficulties such as: Subitising Auditory Memory, Number Recall, One-to-one correspondence, Visual Memory, Sequencing, etc., and is ideal for supporting and boosting the confidence of children who are struggling with maths or are dyscalculic.
The programme has personalisation features that allow the Teacher or Parent to target and track students progress, select activities for individual children and set on-line homework that is marked, scored and tracked.
Web: Dynamo Maths and B.D.A. Store.
Associated programs for older school pupils are available from:
Web: Dynamo Maths.
Web: Jelly James.
This expanding set of simple reinforcement games covering the national curriculum for Maths has proved very popular and effective in many schools, and offers exceptional value for money. One advantage of SUMS is that the games run on various small hand-held devices as well as traditional computers. The instructions are not spoken but the graphics are generally so clear and simple such that this should not present a problem.
Apart from school and local authority licences, a home version CD of the games is available for just £10. The company also has similar products covering Phonics and French.
These programs are based on a simple system of matching values in two grids. They were developed by a special needs teacher and now cover all topics up to the end of KS2. They are ideal for practice at basic skills.
The Number Gym won the 2007 Pirelli Internet Award for the Communication of Mathematics “for its ability to provide children, by means of interactive tools and games, with an informal and fun approach to the complex world of mathematics” The activities cover all Key Stages and the associated table and number bond trainers provide excellent practice. There are sample versions available on line and special rates for home and tutor use.
Flying Carpet (Age 7 to 11 years) and Chefren’s Pyramid (Age 11 to 14 years).
These two programs require the user to practise a number of basic skills from the curriculum for the two key stages. The problems are set in the context of an adventure with an Egyptian theme and provide motivation to continue to complete the adventure. Help with reading some of the instructions may be needed but discussion and adult support will make their use more effective anyway.
MathMania (Age 7 to 14 years).
Navigate through a maze finding a key and reaching the exit with the required score. Score points by collecting gold bars or by answering questions to get through barriers. Once each maze is completed, a puzzle appears and then another maze. There are four levels of difficulty for the questions, which can be set on number, time, measurement, shape and space or a mixture of all these in a lucky dip.
It is possible for teachers to edit the question bank. Pupils enjoy this program as it is simple to use and fits well into a short lesson. The questions vary from simple sums like 5 + 8 to different equivalents in words.
The latter is most useful as this is an area which causes great problems in maths. MathMania is simple and effective and good value.
ConquerMaths has 480 animated and narrated Maths Lessons covering the UK Maths Curriculum from Reception class to A level.
To use the program you need to …
1. Watch and listen to short tutorials (2 to 10 minutes) explaining the principles of that lesson in simple steps and using worked examples. You can stop and rewind any time you want to go over something again.
2. Then test yourself by completing the online worksheet. It is best to do your working out using pencil and paper. You can print out the worksheet and work as you would in class and then enter your results on the computer for checking.
3. Finally, view the worked solutions, which will guide you through your working out and help you to understand any areas where you went wrong.
Each lesson also has a summary sheet which can be printed out as a reminder or for revision.
Web: ConquerMaths for subscription details and a sample lesson.
3. Problem solving.
These programs are most valuable if used collaboratively so that strategies can be discussed and developed. They therefore provide an excellent way for parents or others to support learners.
Maths Circus Acts 3, 4 and 5 (Age 5 to 14 years).
Twelve different games can be played and each one has five levels of difficulty. All the puzzles require reasoning skills. There are straightforward instructions. The colourful graphics relate to circus life with seals, lions, high wire acts etc. The early levels can be solved by trial and error, but learners gain the greatest benefit if they verbalise their reasons for following a procedure to solve a puzzle. For teachers there is also a useful set of 24 activity sheets which can be photocopied.
Zoombinis Adventures (Age 7 to 14 years).
Zoombinis are delightful little creatures with different feet, eyes, heads and noses. In their adventures they have to be guided through different obstacles which needs careful observation, trial and error and logic reasoning. The programs are very well presented with superb sound and animated effects and are very enjoyable.
Users will gradually gain confidence and learn the importance of working logically as they use these programs.
Web: Amazon for the Zoombini’s Triple Pack.
4. Web based resources.
There are many free number work activities available on web pages.
Nodehill Maths offers excellent advice and support to help with learning tables facts.
The BBC site links to maths activities.
ICT Games has more lively activities.
You may know of other sites which you have found helpful. Perhaps you could let us know so that we can tell others via this site.