Sonic Math Fundamentals Part I: Finding

Stand up, raise your hands, and shout, “Hallelujah!”  ObjectiveEd has created an accessible preschool and kindergarten iOS math app! General education preschool apps tend to focus on teaching colors, shapes and concepts such as big and small, left and right, same and different, and top, middle and bottom. These are critical skills that build a solid math foundation. With gen ed apps, these preschool skills are portrayed as visual objects on the screen – making them not accessible for students who are blind or low vision. Sonic Math Fundamentals uses sonification to teach basic shapes and lines; students use their ears instead of their eyes to access the information!

Wait a minute! How can you “hear” a line or shape?

Talking graphing calculators and accessible charts and graphs use sonification to convey information in higher grades. As always, BLV students should be exposed to and taught to use sonification early. Why has it taken so long to incorporate sonification into educational apps for preschoolers?!? It's challenging to figure out a way to make highly visual content accessible - sonification is a new solution! It takes innovative thinking and new technology to be able to “hear” a line or shape. Using cutting-edge technology enables preschoolers to find, trace and identify various types of lines and shapes on their iPad. As the student drags his/her finger on a line, the line emits sound, allowing the student to trace the line. Initially, students can pair a tactile overlay with the sonification as they transition from using touch to using hearing. Remember how gen ed preschoolers are learning to identify colors? This cutting-edge technology also associates a specific sound with each color.

Color Sounds:

  • Blue is a “watery” sound (ocean waves)
  • Red is a “firey” sound (burning)
  • Yellow is a “zappy” sound (electricity zapping)
  • Green is a “windy” sound (blowing wind)

Example: As the student drags his/her finger along a red line, a “firey” sound is heard.

Each line/shape has clear “start” and “end” points, making it easier for a student to know when he/she has traced the entire line/shape.

Start and End Sounds:

  • Start Point is a “bell” sound (ding)
  • End Point is a “whistle” sound

Finding Teaching Tool

ObjectiveEd understands that preschoolers – and their TSVIs – need instruction about how to use this brand-new technology. Sonic Math Fundamentals provides a Teaching Tool that introduces the various sounds and then guides the student through the process of finding the line or shape on the screen using his/her ears (and if desired, his/her fingers). In the Teaching Tool, the type of line/shape is announced using preschool-friendly terms (Example: Up/down or right/left line). Example: “You are going to find an up/down line.” This is critical information! Students should be encouraged to listen carefully to this information; with this information, the student can begin building a mental map of what this type of line will look like.

The Teaching Tool also announces the color of the line. Example: “Remember, the blue color makes the (blue sound clip) “watery” sound.”

Once the screen is activated with a tap, there is an announcement of how to find that particular line. Example: “Start searching from the top left of the screen and drag your finger from left to right.”

Once the line is discovered, there is an announcement that confirms what you found. Example: “You found the blue up/down line.” The game continues with instructions on how to find the start point of the line. 

As the student searches for the line and/or tries to find the start point, hints are given as needed.

Note: The student should drag one finger along the screen, in an intentional, systematic pattern, to find the line or shape. The student should maintain contact with the screen – the entire time!

Sonic Math Fundamentals is fully accessible with VoiceOver and without. The activities in the app are self-voicing, so students are not required to be proficient VoiceOver users.

Tactile Overlay

TSVIs can choose to place the corresponding tactile overlay directly on the screen. This supports students as they transition from tactile to digital lines. Digital files of the lines and shapes are available to print on capsule paper and run through a tactile graphics machine such as a PIAF or Swell machine. These digital images can also be printed, and teachers can adapt the image using their favorite tactile materials.

Image: 

PIAF tactile graphic overlay: Green circle with a black raised edge. 6-dot raised braille cells are located in the bottom left and bottom right corner used to callibrate the overlay on the iPad. 

PIAF tactile graphic: green circle with a black raised edge. 6-dot raised braille cells are located in the bottom left and bottom right corner used to calibrate the overlay on the iPad.

It is recommended to adhere the tactile overlay to the iPad screen with double sided adhesive scrapbooking tape or another similar product.

Don’t have a tactile graphics machine? No problem! Use the digital files to create your own tactile graphic using thin graphic tape, puff paint (allow time to dry!), tracing wheel, or your favorite method/material.

Image:

Teacher-created tactile graphic overlay: Blue triangle with a white raised line around the edge made with thin graphic tape. 6-dot raised braille cells are located in the bottom left and bottom right corner used to callibrate the overlay on the iPad. 

Photo of a blue triangle with a raised thin line around the edge made with tactile graphic tape.

Teacher Hint: The tech goal of Sonic Math Fundamentals is to teach students how to use their ears to access sonified lines and shapes. Braille students will often rely on the tactile graphic, as they have already developed using their tactile skills to glean information. Encourage your student to listen to the sonification and develop strong auditory skills! Do not let the tactile overlay be a crutch!

The tactile graphic is a great way to solidify the concept of a shape or a specific type of line. Just like students transition from real objects (3 dimensional shapes) to raised line shapes (2 dimensional shapes), students can use the tactile graphic to transition from using their fingers to using their ears. Use the tactile graphic on the tabletop (not the iPad), to reinforce the line type (Example: An up/down line) or the shape (Example: A square); encourage the student to hold that line/shape in their mind, before transitioning to the sonified line/shape on the iPad. With the tactile graphic, also discuss how the student tactually searches for an up/down line versus a left/right line, using one finger. (Remember, with the iPad, the student can only touch and drag one finger around the screen.)

The Teaching Tool is exactly that – a way to teach the concepts before playing the associated game. The TSVI can choose which lines and shapes are appropriate for their student, starting with a left/right line and up/down line. Once the student is familiar with up/down, left/right, and diagonal lines, add simple shapes. As the student learns how to use the software and learns about additional lines and shapes, the TSVI can choose to progress to more challenging lines and shapes. 

Note: The Finding Teaching Tool and the associated Finding game, does not require that the student to identify the line or shape.

Video: Finding Teach Tool

 

Goals of the Finding Teaching Tool

Remember, the goal of the Finding Teaching Tool is to learn how to systematically search for the items on the screen. The student is only asked to trace the line to its start point. Students are also learning the color sounds and the start point sound, how to drag, listening skills and building a mental map of the line or shape. Shapes and lines are different sizes and a while most are located in the center of the screen, some lines and shapes are intentionally located in different areas!

Sandbox

Did your student want more time to explore the shape or line? Does your student need more time to practice dragging a finger on the screen or other tech-related skills? Do you, the teacher, want to teach additional concepts using the digital line or shape? No problem! Since the Finding Teaching Tool's goal is simply to find the line/shape and trace to the start point, the game ends immediately after the student finds the start point. Many students will initially need more time to simply explore and build concepts. The Sandbox is designed to provide your student with unlimited time to explore, practice and build concepts about the line or shape. The Sandbox gives limited information and is intended for the teacher to provide any necessary hints and prompts. Use the Sandbox to teach the skills and/or concept that your student needs!

Sandbox Finding Teaching Tool video:

 

Hide and Seek Game

Kids love the classic game of Hide and Seek! Sonic Math Fundamentals has taken the timeless game and uses it to teach preschoolers to systematically search the screen. The setting is a playground and the player is asked to find friends who are hiding in five known locations (top, bottom, left, right and center) around the screen. Players can explore the screen before starting the game. There are two game options: Untimed Hide and Seek and Timed Hide and Seek. With both games, only one friend is hiding at a time. Once the player finds the friend, another hider is generated.

  • Untimed Hide and Seek: The player has unlimited time to find 10 hiders. Prompts with information about the hider’s location are given.
  • Timed Hide and Seek: The player has 90 seconds to find as many hiders as possible. Players will not receive prompts.

Remember, the goal is to systematically search the five areas – as quickly as possible! Encourage your student to drag a finger systematically around the screen without lifting his/her finger.

Teacher Hint: Students who are BLV are often slow and cautious when using tech. This is a fun game that encourages students to move and process information quickly! The better the search pattern, the faster the student will find his/her friends!

Untimed Hide and Seek Video:

 

Timed Hide and Seek Video:

Resources

Sonic Math Fundamentals will be available before school starts in the fall of 2022. It will be part of the full VI curriculum that includes Braille Sheets and AI Tutor.

  • If you would like to test Sonic Math Fundamentals with your students over the summer, please contact marty@objectiveEd.com
  • If you would like to start using Sonic Math Fundamentals in the fall with your young early learners, please email marty@objectiveEd.com
  • If you have a strong interest in STEM for young early learners, and would like to help in the next phase of this project, please contact marty@objectiveEd.com