Category Archives: Mathematics

Annabelle poses next to her completed timeline

Montessori Birthday Traditions (and Annabelle’s 4th!)

Most lovers of Montessori are familiar with the popular Montessori birthday celebration, or “Celebration of Life,” as it’s often called. We marked my now four year old, Annabelle’s birthday with a celebration of life at school this year, but we also enjoyed two other, slightly less popular Montessori birthday traditions. I wanted to share these with you all, in case you should be unfamiliar with them, as I think they’re fantastic activities that not only make birthdays that much more special, but also help deepen the child’s sense of their place in history and in their family.

“…for all things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.  This idea helps the mind of the child to become fixed, to stop wandering in an aimless quest for knowledge.  He is satisfied, having found the universal centre of himself with all things.”

Maria Montessori

Timeline of a Child’s Life

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More than Just Numbers: Montessori Pre-Math

The most recent post in my early1 math and language series was all about math skills. In this second part of that post, I’d like to look specifically at number sense.

Rote Counting

A simple dice game in our house

Those of us who value concrete, hands on learning don’t typically like the idea of learning anything by rote, but in this case it’s important. Before children can gain a meaningful understanding of quantities, numbers, and the relationships between them, they need to learn basic counting. Children tend to pick this up in their own time, but we can certainly offer some support along the way. Continue reading

  1. It occurred to me recently, when I came across posts with reading and math activities for the very young, that some people may get the wrong idea when I talk about “early” math and language. Just to clarify, I’m not talking about teaching math and language “early.” In fact, I sort of advocate the opposite. I mean “early” as in developed before more complex and less concrete math and language skills. If that makes any sense. Hopefully you catch my drift.
Image Credit: Hans and Carolyn on Flickr

Early Math and Language Skills: Pre-Math

The last few installments in my early math and language series have focused on language. Today, it’s time to talk a bit more about math. As with the alphabet, many adults are in a hurry for children to learn numbers. Like the letters of the alphabet, however, written numerals are actually quite abstract and, without a thorough understanding of what they stand for, are not particularly useful to young children. Early preparation for mathematics can come from many of the activities already discussed in this series, such as matching, sorting, and grading. Beyond that, there is much to do before bothering with learning numbers and operations.

My point in discussing these ideas is not to point out still more that we as parents need to worry about, but instead to highlight the complexity of the preparatory skills young children develop before they can have a meaningful understanding of numbers and other mathematical concepts. For most children, everyday life will provide plenty of opportunities to develop these preparatory skills, but it’s important that we honor the child’s process and allow them plenty of time to learn and absorb these pre-math concepts before we stress about teaching them math in a more formal way. For those interested in providing tools and activities to assist with early math learning, the following Montessori based ideas may be helpful. If you have ideas of your own, please share them! Continue reading

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Mini Review: Montessori Letter and Number Work

Annabelle exploring Montessori: Number Work

I was thrilled when, in the middle of my Montessori Early Math and Language Series, I learned of two new board books from Bobby and June George, founders of Baan Dek Montessori. Montessori: Letter Work and Montessori: Number Work  meet a need that I have felt for many years. I only wish they had been around when I was still in the classroom! Continue reading

Photo credit: Jess and Colin Liotta on Flickr

Early Math and Language Skills Part 3: Pre Writing

I’ve been talking about early math and language skills here for the past couple of weeks, and today for part three I’ll talk a bit about preparatory activities for writing. The main point of this series was to highlight the fact that many skills actually precede reading and early math, and that these academic skills are often pushed far too early. The skills I talk about can and do unfold naturally in children with time, but I believe it’s best to give them time to unfold before guiding children toward formal academic reading and writing work. If we wish to work with our children and move toward the mastery of these academic skills, we can begin with some of the activities discussed in this series.

Once again, I’ll look first at how these skills are fostered in the Montessori classroom. That’s the inspiration for my ideas, and can surely spark many in addition to mine. Continue reading