Learning mathematical concepts in a Montessori classroom begins concretely and progresses towards the abstract. Many of the preschool students have recently been drawn to our Math shelves and have chosen counting works, which we refer to as sets baskets. A simple sets basket is a fixed number line with the corresponding amount of identical objects. As the sets baskets become more complex, the child practices ordering the numbers and sorting various small objects. Once the numbers are ordered and the objects have been sorted, the child counts with 1:1 correspondence and then matches the correct amount of objects with the corresponding numeral.
Recently a small group of children sat for a lesson with a teacher made material called the number bags. The children took turns ordering the numbers from 0 to 9. Next they took turns counting gems, one at a time, to fill the numbered bags. The teacher reminded the children once all the bags were filled, “how many did we put in this bag?” as she pointed to the zero bag. The children exclaimed, “zero!” “Yes,” the teacher smiled and said, “because zero means none!” Next the children were invited to feel the weight of the bags. The children noticed the zero bag felt the lightest and the nine bag felt the heaviest. This fun work provides both a sensorial and mathematical experience.
“Children display a universal love of Mathematics, which is par excellence the science of precision, order and intelligence.”