Resources for teaching children with Down Syndrome


Below you will find information on proven  resources used to help children with Down Syndrome with literacy, numeracy and communication. Click on any of the logo’s below to be redirected to the relevant websites for more.

For up to date research and resources for teaching children with Down Syndrome please do visit the Down Syndrome Education International website.





  • See & Learn

See and Learn makes it easy to support children with Down syndrome at home, in individual and group therapy settings and in the classroom. See and Learn offers activities designed to promote the development of language, reading, speech, memory and number skills.

See and Learn is a range of resources to support learning for children with Down syndrome.

See and Learn is developed and published by Down Syndrome Education International – a world-renowned leader in providing evidence-based information about the education and development of children and young people with Down syndrome.

See and Learn uses structured activities that make full use of the children’s strengths as visual learners to help them learn more successfully.

There are four See and Learn programmes:

The first four steps of See and Learn Language and Reading are currently available in US and UK English editions. Additional steps in See and Learn Language and Reading, the other programmes and further translations are currently under development.


Each programme includes a series of steps. Each step includes a set of structured activities. Resources, step-by-step instructions and record sheets are provided for each activity. A guide to each step explains what is known about the development of the particular skill and therefore why each activity is included and what the child is gaining from it.

Activity instructions are illustrated with clear photographs. Record sheets help families and professionals chart a child’s progress through the different activities and steps.

Many of these resources  are free to download from the Down Syndrome Education International website.

POPS Resources – A special needs literacy programme

The POPS reading programme is designed for children with speech impairments, Down Syndrome and autism. The sceme was launched in 2004 and is constantly evolving.

The programme delivers a natural language experience where children are taught the language they will need in their everyday lives. The story topics are understandable and relevant to the child’s experiences. The illustrations are simple, attractive and uncluttered.

The programme progresses in small easy steps, helping the child to become an effective reader by developing both word recognition (phonics) and language comprehension (meaning) skills. It is designed to be easily adaptable to the individual learning needs of your child.  A comprehensive free manual for teachers and parents sets out the principles of the reading scheme and provides lots of practical strategies for maximising its potential as a teaching tool.


Numicon is a maths teaching programme that uses a series of structured images to represent numbers. Children enjoy the Numicon approach, which plays to their strong sense of pattern. Their enthusiasm and increased confidence leads them to persevere. This in turn leads to deeper understanding and raised achievement.

Numicon’s small steps teaching programme with its use of strong visual imagery and the emphasis on pattern and language is proving successful for pupils who are experiencing difficulty with maths, including those who have special needs. Our new Closing the Gap with Numicon Teaching Materials offer guidance to help teachers address pupils’ difficulties in learning and accessing mathematics, plus this kit is designed specifically for working with older pupils who are behind their peers. The Kit also includes some sections on issues relating to specific SEN categories.

It is helpful for any pupils meeting Numicon for the first time, to do the Closing the Gap activities through which they will learn the Numicon patterns, attach number names to the patterns, order the patterns and numerals, combine shapes for addition, ‘take way’ and compare shapes for subtraction. The rate of progress will depend on the pupil; some older pupils will cover these activities quickly, other more entrenched additional needs are likely to need lots of repetition. PLEASE NOTE Numicon Maths Shapes are now available in Grey and the Numicon Pegs are available in black and white for those children who have ASD and may find the bright colours a distraction.

♦ For more information click here.





  • makaton

Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people communicate. It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech in spoken word order.

People with learning disabilities or communication difficulties may struggle to make themselves understood – and to understand others. This can provoke intense frustration, challenging behaviour and isolation, and act as a barrier to achievement.

Parents and carers can experience similar feelings of frustration and isolation, wondering how they will ever ‘get through’.

Makaton takes away that frustration and enables individuals to connect with other people and the world around them. This opens up all kinds of possibilities.

With Makaton, children and adults can communicate straight away using the signs and symbols. For those who have experienced the frustration of being unable to communicate meaningfully or effectively, Makaton can be a revelation and a bridge to greater confidence and self-esteem.

Many people then drop the signs or symbols naturally at their own pace, as they develop speech. Makaton is highly flexible as it can be personalised to the individual’s needs and used at a level suitable for them. It can be used to:

  • share thoughts, choices and emotions
  • label real objects, pictures, photos and places
  • take part in games and songs
  • listen to, read and tell stories
  • create recipes, menus, shopping lists
  • write letters and messages
  • help people find their way around public buildings

Today over 100,000 children and adults use Makaton symbols and signs, either as their main method of communication or as a way to support speech.

The Makaton Charity is responsible for developing and sharing the Makaton language programme.


shabang logo

Huddersfield’s Shabang! Theatre Adventures have launched some excellent Makaton resource for families and professionals.

A song and music book with accompanying makaton signs and C.D and also a DVD with original songs, makaton signing and performers with additional needs – ‘All At Sea’ is available now! (also available as a C.D)

Click the picture to be redirected for more information!