Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Myriad Math

Anika's mom was in school today and she told me how surprised she was of her daughter when this happened the other day when they were out shopping:

Mommy had a card from a store wherein they needed to fill in 50 boxes with a sticker each so that they will get a special reward. I assume, you'll see later on why, that this was how their card looked like:

Mommy said, "Anika, can you count how many stickers we already have." So Anika, 5, counted. 37.

Mommy asked, "How many more do you think we need to reach 50?"

Anika knew what to do as she replied, "Well, let's see. I have 3 tens and 7 units. And I need 1 more set of tens and 3 more units. 1 ten and 3 units is thirteen. I need 13 more stickers!"

Mommy was delightfully surprised with Anika's thought process; she had expected that her daughter will simply count the remaining boxes that still didn't have stickers. I was heartily happy for Anika because she was able to logically and concretely apply a-couple-of-weeks' lessons in class (addition and subtraction of 2-digit numbers, static meaning no carrying or borrowing) to real albeit random situations.

The 5 and 6's have been enjoying adding and subtracting bigger numbers using the different Math Montessori materials:

Here's Anika and Julia laying out The Bird's Eye View of the Decimal System.
The golden beads/bars/squares/cubes help the children see the quantities
and distinguish families (units, tens, hundreds, thousands) concretely. Note that before
we proceed with doing mathematical operations, we would have had many
activities, such as fetching games, wherein we will just fetch numerals and/or
quantities. We would have also done much work on complex digits (e.g. 27, 727, etc.)
Sometimes we'll tie this work up with a puzzle map from geography and we'll say
I'm going to India and the plane ticket is worth 2727, I would then have to get
that equivalent golden beads/bars/squares/cubes. I enjoy this as much as the children. :)

Ia is working with the Stamp Game. I also found another way of working
with the Stamp Game
 at The Moveable Alphabet. As an alternative to the
small wooden tiles, you may download this. Dynamic operations (with
carrying or borrowing) are fun to do with this material. You can see that
this is more abstract than the work above since now we are using just
color-coded wooden tiles with 1, 10, 100, 1000 printed on them.

Felipe, who just turned 6, was delighted to see the Bead Frame
out on the shelf and immediately asked me to show it to him.
Since repetition, control of error, isolation of difficulty, and varying levels
are characteristic of Montessori materials, you see that the Bead Frame
is another means to ease the transition to an even more abstract Math,
towards mental Math.


  1. Wow.
    Wow to the power of wow.
    You know, Mars, it has been a while since I have actually worked in a Montessori classroom. I have had training and until I actually found your blog....I forgot. Kids are capable of so much......and I really do wish I had the materials you have access to.
    Perhaps one day I will get a school of my own...who knows.
    Till then, I am so glad I found your blog & really appreciate you sharing all the information and and heart you put in your work. It must be really something to know you.
    Keep up the great work.
    Please keep blogging & teaching.

  2. What a great post! I just love all the Montessori math materials - they're absolutely brilliant.

  3. Oh Barbra, thank you so much for your touching and encouraging words.
    You know, my decision to be a teacher wasn't well-received by everyone in my family, primarily or if only because of the salary. But meeting people like you who share the same opinion and passion truly make me feel that the day I finally decided to be a teacher was the day I made the best choice in my life so far.
    Again, thank you, and I am truly glad to have met you here.

  4. Me too, Mari-Ann; it was love at first sight when I met these Montessori Math materials. :)
    And there is always a certain proud excitement when I see the children taking them out.

  5. Well Mars, teaching wasn't a conscious decision for the money. I know I put more money into it than I made. I have to be very organized, with my time, money, all my efforts. Many aspects of Montessori teaches that as a life skill. Once I started implementing that into my curriculum it clicked in my life as well.
    I am glad we share the same passions.

  6. Where do you get these montessori math materials?

    1. Hi, we get them from a local supplier who provides authentic Montessori materials to schools locally and abroad. If you're from the Philippines, I can help you get your own Montessori materials--feel free to contact me here or via email :-)