The Montessori math curriculum is based on very concrete materials, designed to effectively teach abstract mathematical concepts to young children. A child is first introduced to number rods, which are quite substantial to hold and carry, so the child very concretely feels that one is small and ten is big! Eventually, a child is introduced to Montessori Beads, which further bridge the gap between the abstract numeral symbolization and the concept of quantity. Beads are tactile and the child can feel that one is small and nine is big. Montessori Checker Board Beads are quintessential Montessori math material, but you can also easily make them at home with pipe cleaners and pony beads.
Each bead is color-coded so each numeral is represented by a single color. For example, one is red, so thread one red pony bead on a red pipe cleaner. You would do the same for number two which is green, pink for three and so on. Proceed till number nine. Number ten, or a golden ten-bar, is made from gold beads and are used with Montessori Ten and Teen Boards. To make sure that your beads do not fall out, simply curl the end of the pipe cleaner and insert it back in the last bead, leaving a small loop at the end.
Montessori Checker Board Beads are also designed to teach order of numbers by creating a Short Bead Stair as shown on the picture above. Offer your child to place one bead on the top, then two right under, then three and so on till number nine. (Here, we added a ten-bar on the bottom.) You can also do addition or subtraction problems such as placing one bead and two-bead and offer your child to count the sum by counting each bead
Math can be a lot of fun for little ones if concepts are presented as concretely as possible through hands-on tactile materials. Hooray to Montessori!
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