Numbers and quantities are buzzing around our classroom left and right! The children’s love of working with large quantities has really boomed this year! The Montessori Method has a very unique and accessible way of helping children understand numbers. We start with concrete, sensorial representations of each place quantity (units, tens, hundreds and thousands) in the form of golden beads…
Once children can gather the appropriate quantity to a given card, or gather the card for a given quantity we begin playing the change game. In this game we gather a random quantity from the shelf- units, tens, hundreds and thousands. We then begin to count them in order to see how much we got, starting with units, of course. We learn that ten units is actually the same as 1 ten, so when you get that amount you have to go to the “store” to exchange those ten units for 1 ten. When you then don’t have enough units to go to the store you get the card that represents that amount. Once you have repeated this for tens, hundreds and thousands you put the cards together to see what amount you have!
Once children understand this exchange process we begin to introduce the operations. Children set up small number cards of their own and in each game the children play a concrete, sensorial game for that operation! So, in Addition each child (or pair of children) gets a quantity placed on their tray. They each gather that small quantity, then we put the two small quantities together (in a dramatic way of dumping them on the rug) to make a large quantity, and count it to see what we got!
As children play these games and can go through the processes on their own for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division we begin to introduce games that help them to understand them on an abstract level. For example, in the stamp game we do these same games but now they use small tiles that represent each of the quantities and begin to understand how to add, subtract, multiply and divide on paper!
These activities happen on a daily basis at Frog Song- so much that they are rarely on the shelf!