Children in the Montessori classroom have a unique introduction to math and numeracy. It’s through their hands! In what’s called the Sensorial Area of the classroom, children experience quantity through their senses, specifically touch and sight.
Only when a child understands quantities in a concrete way do they move on to the abstract representation of quantity: numbers.
Angela Chang of MOMtessori Life has some suggestions for helping your child develop quantity understanding and early math concepts at home. We’ve included 3 ideas below, plus the link to all 10 of her Montessori-inspired math activities for young children.
1. More Than / Less Than – 6 months to 2 years
Here’s how Angela presented the “more than / less than” concept to her daughter using blue and red dinosaur erasers:
“I placed some dinosaur erasers in a bin on L’s math shelf. To present it to her, I lined up all of the blue dinosaur erasers and all of the red ones (an early form of bar graphing), then said, “There are more blue dinosaurs. There are less* red dinosaurs.”
*This terminology drives me a little nuts, because it would technically be “fewer” in this particular instance if I was using proper English. However, I’m swallowing it for now to keep my terms consistent.
I counted 4 blue dinosaurs and 3 red dinosaurs, then said, “Four is more than three. Three is less than four.”
2. Pattern Practice – 2.5 – 4 years
Angela says, “There are a lot of ways you can incorporate math works into your toddler’s work space before she’s ready for actual number recognition. Patterns are a great introduction to math concepts! Math is full of abstract patterns and sequencing.”
One way to introduce patterns is with Duplo or Lego bricks. Ahead of time, draw the pattern you’d like your child to recreate on a piece of paper, using as close to the actual size of brick as possible so your child can compare. Use a simple ABABABA pattern to start with, then get more creative as your child masters this skill: ABCABC or ABBCABBC.
3. Number Matching – 2.5 – 4 years
Try using simple number cards like these to begin introducing numbers to your child. Of course, they will be familiar with number symbols from objects in their environment like clocks and calendars, but now you can start matching a quantity to each number.
To set up the activity, find 6 of the same objects and place them in a basket. Angela introduced numbers 1, 2 and 3 to her daughter with the help of miniature rubber ducks!
Next, draw or place simple round stickers of the correct quantity beneath the number. The sticker representing 1 should be placed in the upper left corner, then 1 and 2 is top left and top right, respectively. The stickers representing three should be top left, top right, then bottom left or centered beneath 1 and 2. This helps children distinguish odd from even!
Lastly, Angela recommends presenting the matching activity to your child like this, “I traced 1, said “This says one.” Then I touched the yellow dot sticker, and said, “This is one.” We did the same for 2 and 3. The mini rubber duckies made this work extra fun!”
To see more math activities from Angela at MOMtessori, visit her here, “10 Montessori-Inspired Math Activities for Toddlers.” Check back in with Guidepost Parent often to see more posts from Angela, including a lesson in introducing culture studies to your young child!
Angela Chang is a trained Montessori guide and mother of two. She creates and shares the materials and lessons from her experiences of implementing Montessori in the home, and you can find out more at her website, or on Instagram or Facebook.
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Topics: Ages 3-6