The development of the mathematical mind starts with practical life and sensorial exploration in toddler level. Once a child has journeyed through primary Montessori, their skills are refined and developed, bringing it all together in the lower elementary level.
A wonderful multiplication tool for early learners is the Multiplication Bead Board. Using this, we can draw a clearer picture of how symbols on paper can only make sense to a child after sensorial experience. When school removes real objects from learning math concepts, the study can become dry and meaningless. Montessori felt, by feeding the child’s natural interest in all aspects of mathematics, we serve by giving sensorial experiences first and only then the representatives on paper.
Montessori materials are certainly ingenious, so I’m going to continue to share all I can!
This is for children just starting to learn how to multiply single digit numbers (for example, 8 X 5), start with the Montessori Multiplication board:
If you look at the board's layout, the problem was 2 x 5 -- children mark 2 places on the top of the board, put down 5 beads for each place, and count the result. This hands-on practice helps children internalize exactly what happens for equation, allowing them to make the transition to solving written equations quickly and easily.
Another ingenious thing that Montessori materials do – is teach other skills almost subconsciously. For example, this bead board also teaches the child about squared numbers. Because each time the child multiplies a number by itself – she will see a square shape on the board. This information will come to use in the upper elementary classroom when she begins learning about square roots. She will go back and say “ah ha! I remember that from the multiplication board!”
The way I use this at home is to give the child several rectangle cuts of paper, each one with all of the possible multiplication problems on it. Starting with 1s, then 2s, then 3s and so on. As she finds the answers to each one, she writes it down. We use those to make a multiplication “booklet” that she can go back to again and again. Or sometimes make a second booklet as part of her process of memorizing the work. She also uses this to see the patterns of skip-counting, which we also practice with Montessori Bead Chains.
I let the child do the work as many times as she would like. Once I am sure she understands the work well, then we strive to start memorization of the answers.
From there, we work on 5-minute math sheets, with the goal of her eventually answering 100 questions in 5 minutes. Perhaps not until much later in her school career – but memory and speed do come!