Sonic Math Fundamentals part 2: Tracing

Is your student learning to trace lines, identify shapes (and colors) and learning basic tech skills? Check out this exciting new fully accessible app!

The purpose of the Tracing Teaching Tool is to introduce the students to the concept of dragging a finger along a digital line or along the border of a digital shape using sonfication. In the Tracing game, called Star Gazer, the player practices his/her skills by tracing constellations.

In Sonic Math Fundamentals Part 1, students learned how to systematically search and find various types of lines and shapes on an iPad. Students were exposed to listening carefully for critical information given verbally, such as what type of line or shape, the size of the line or shape, and the sound that represents each color. Students also learned additional tech skills such as where and how to physically drag one finger systematically on the screen. Tactile overlays were available to help students transfer skills from tactile exploration to gleaning information auditorily. With the Hide and Seek game, students practiced finding five locations on the screen (top, bottom, left, right and middle) and practiced search patterns involving these five locations.

The next step before students can identify various types of digital lines and shapes, is learning how to trace lines and shapes by listening to and following the sonified lines. This post will focus on how to trace sonified lines and shapes. In order to trace a line, the student must first find the sonified line, then trace the line to find the start point. A bell sound represents the start point. The student then drags a finger along the sonified line to find the end point. A whistle sound represents the end point. In the case of a circle, the end point is indicated by the bell sounding two times.

Learning a new tool like sonification takes practice for students and for the TSVIs, educators or family members who are teaching the tool. Lucky for us, Sonic Math Fundamentals includes Teaching Tools – step-by-step interactive instructions and a place to practice skills before playing the games. In the Tracing Teaching Tool (just like the Finding Teaching Tool), the game announces what type of line is on the screen along with the size of the line. With that information, students should build a mental map of the line anticipating what the line/shape will look like and how to find it on the screen, before searching and tracing the line. Example: A big up-down line will run from the top of the screen down to the bottom of the screen. This line is probably located in the center of the screen. Starting close to the top left corner of the screen, the student should drag to the right to find the big up-down line. Once the line is found, the student should know (or is in the process of learning) that the start point is at the top and drag his/her finger straight up. Once the bell is heard, the student should drag his/her finger straight down, tracing the sonified line to the bottom of the screen, stopping at the whistle sound. If the announcement stated it is a small left-right line, the student should immediately anticipate that the small line is probably in the middle of the screen and takes up a small area – a small line does not go from one side of the screen to the other. So, the student should try to find the small left-right line by dragging down around the middle of the screen. If the student does not find the small left-right line in the middle of the screen, the student should then use a systematic up/down search pattern to find the line.

Teacher Hint: When using the Tracing Teaching Tool, ask the student to listen to the announcement and then draw the type of line or shape on the table (or in the air). This helps the student to develop a mental map of the specific line or shape and confirms whether the student listened and understands the concept of that line or shape. Tactile overlays can also be used. One TSVI involved in the initial field testing, said that her dual media student wanted to rely on her residual vision rather than listening to the sonification. The TSVI had the student trace the tactile overlay which was on the desk first, to remind her what a rectangle is; then, the TSVI had her preschooler use her ears only to find and trace the sonified line on the iPad.

Need more time to practice and build that muscle memory of tracing shapes? Use the Sandbox feature for unlimited exploration of the lines and shapes!

Remember, you – the educator – can choose and assign which lines and shapes that your student will receive.

Tracing Teaching Tool: Sonic Math Fundamentals video:

Straight lines are easier than curved lines. Shapes are made up of straight lines, curves or a combination of both. Start with simple lines such as an up-down or left-right line; students can orient to the physical edge of the iPad as they learn to trace in a straight line. A diagonal, curved, zig-zag, and wavy lines are initially harder to trace.

Note: The player must find the start point and then trace at least 75% of the line/shape before finding the end point.

Lines or shapes that change direction will have either a “big angle” or a “small angle”. The big angle is a 90 degree turn and, in this level, the small angle is a 45 degree turn. (The degree of the turn is not taught until the students are older.) Students are given a sonification clue when the line turns: a big angle makes the drum sound and the small angle makes the guitar sound. These “angle” sounds alert the student that he/she has traced the line to a corner and now has to make a turn to continue tracing the line. When hearing the angle sound, the student can anticipate if the turn is going to be a big turn (such as turns in a rectangle) or a small turn (such as turns in an isosceles triangle). If two lines intersect, the intersection also has an assigned sound.

Angle and Intersection Sounds

Color Sounds

Don’t forget about the color sonification used in the Tracing Teaching Tool!

Note: The lines in the Star Gazer game are all white; the game does not include color characteristics.

Sonic Math does includes intersections such as a “+” or “x” intersection. Intersections are trickier, as the student has to find the start and end point of two lines!

Star Gazer Game

The Star Gazer came has two modes: Timed and Untimed.

Untimed Star Gazer

In the Untimed mode, players are tasked with tracing three constellations, taking as much time as they need. After successfully tracing three constellations from start to the end point, an object related to that line or shape appears on the screen and the player can tap amywhere on the screen to hear a fun sound effect. A constellation fun fact is also announced!

In the Timed mode, the student is given 60 seconds to trace as many lines and shapes as possible. Students are pushed to trace quickly!

Star Gazer Untimed: Sonic Math Fundamentals video


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.

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