Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Montessori Maths: Children learning to read " a thousand"

Yesterday, I finally started working on using the Mathematics materials with the children. I would dearly like to work on more Practical and Sensorial activities with the children, however, due to the lack of time in lieu of the upcoming concert that the kindergarten has, this has totally rendered it impossible.

Anyway, I wanted to try out the maths materials with the children.

So I started with the 6 years beginners yesterday using the Large Number Cards. For that, I did the 3PL with the 6 year olds, and they had no trouble naming from units up to thousands. But the activity I had in mind for them was to actually arrange the tens. The 6 year olds had no trouble arranging those.

Then I worked with the 5 years Advanced. Now, the 5 years Advanced has only probably worked up until numbers 30s, but hardly anything beyond that. But the point of the activity was actually not to name the quantity, nor do they need to know the name proper from quantities "twenty, thirty, forty to ninety" but to arrange the quantities (10-90) from the biggest to the smallest.
So I worked with them on their knowledge of 1 to 9 to arrange the quantities. The only difference is that there is a perpetual "zero" after each number.
As a colleague, LY, observed, "a play with numbers but perpetually with the zero after that."

Today, with the other class, a 5 years Beginners, I decided to use the Golden Beads instead. Reason being that, the children were all in their first year of school, and working hands on with objects would be better (not to say that the other classes would not benefit either) and they only started working with learning numbers this year compared to the other classes (which would mean to say, technically, they are at the same level when it came to academic work with the toddler class!).
Anyway, I used the 3PL with this class to teach the names of the quantity. I did have some problems with the first half of the group, so I decided to try another way to teach the 2nd half of the group.
I worked on naming quantities (units, ten bead bar, hundred bead square and thousand bead cube)

One of the boys, CW had asked me why didn’t we say "twenty or thirty" then to which, I did remember that the children have not actually learnt the proper name to it nor worked with those names. So it was not possible to do that all within one short lesson.

But naming it using by calling it "1 ten bead bar, or 2 bead bar, or 1 one thousand or 2 one thousand" is much easier as the children only need to rely on their knowledge of 1 to 10 to work with the bead bars. Which is reasonably rational and true, right? The point of Montessori having designed the materials in such a manner is for that very reason, to which, it applies to both the written as well as well as her concrete decimal system materials.

It is a loss if children are not given the opportunity to work with big quantities. Not knowing "the right name" is not reason enough that they are deprived of such a priviledge to work hands on with it. It is only as much the prejudice and biasness that stops us educators from being ready to allow children to move forward in their hunger for knowledge.

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