Dr. Maria Montessori spoke of the development of the Mathematical Mind, which refers to the development of precision, abstraction, order, intelligence, and imagination. Math in the early years of the Montessori preschool in Winnetka curriculum is based on exposing children to concrete materials and preparing them for logical and critical thinking. Instead of memorizing mathematical facts, children work with materials that are representative of something like a number. Math in preschool deals directly with numbers, patterns, shapes, and spatial experiences a child experiences within her environment. She absorbs the information and experiences into her brain, making it ripe for incremental opportunities for more abstract concepts. The curriculum emphasizes the process over the product.
Montessori Preschool Mathematics Materials
Montessori materials are carefully designed and multi-sensorial in nature. Younger children are introduced to complex facts sensorially. The materials engage many parts of the brain and allow children to internalize a wide range of concepts. They prepare a child for a comprehensive understanding of the principles of mathematics.
The Montessori preschool classroom illustrates this concept beautifully. Every category of materials has its place and each activity on the shelves is presented in ordered steps to enable the child to do it correctly. The materials are arranged from the easiest to the most difficult. This is meant to put the child at ease and help him succeed.
Here are some of the mathematics materials used in a Montessori Preschool in Winnetka classroom:
Red RodsThis is a sensorial material used to introduce the concept of length. By laying out the rods, children learn how the quantities one-to-ten are related to each other. Once a child has mastery of the Red Rods, they’re now ready for the number rods.
Number RodsThese are red and blue segment rods that allow a child to understand the counting sequence of numbers 1 to 10, and also help establish visual length discrimination. Each rod represents a number and the difference between each one is clear. With number rods, the child isn’t memorizing or reciting the numbers, but establishing the quantity in a separate entity.
Pink TowerThis is one of the most famous Montessori materials. It’s a stacking work of pink blocks that children have to arrange in descending order. The largest cube is 10 cm cubed, the next is 9 cm cubed, and so on. The pink tower is an opportunity to use incremental measurements or an example of the base 10 system. When children build the pink tower, they internalize the visual and tangible differences in size and weight.
Sandpaper NumeralsThe Sandpaper Numerals are introduced once a child has a solid understanding of basic quantities 1 to 10. These green wooden rectangles have numbers 0 to 9 engraved on the front with sandpaper. This helps children learn the names of numbers and understand that each number is representative of a different quantity. The sandpaper provides good control of error because the child will feel it if they’re not tracing the number accurately.
Spindle BoxesThe material consists of two boxes, one box divided into compartments labeled 0-9 and another one containing 45 spindles. A child places spindles in the other box with compartments. One spindle in the one compartment, four spindles in the four compartment, and so on. If the child finishes counting and notices they have too many or too few spindles, the child knows that he has made an error somewhere. What’s more, this material allows a child to see what zero looks like.
Golden BeadsThe Golden Bead Material provides an enjoyable way to introduce children to units, place value and the decimal system. With the beads, the child gains a sense of quantities in the decimal system as well as the exchange of quantities as units become tens, hundreds, and thousands.
Math in Montessori Preschool Winnetka gives children a visual representation of numbers and helps them develop visual discrimination. Children who learn visually or tactilely have a deeper understanding of quantities, are more confident in their skills and feel free to experiment.