What is Montessori Preschool? Part 8

Montessori Learning Materials, Part 4—Mathematics: From the concrete to the abstract.

Mathematics materials in the Montessori classroom

Preschool age children have minds that are naturally mathematical. They have the capacity to reason, calculate and estimate. They are intensely conscious of quantities around them, be they counting seashells at the beach or the number of cookies on their plate. The concrete materials used to teach math in the Montessori classroom allows these young sensory explorers to begin their mathematical journey through the processes of manipulation, experimentation, and invention, moving them from concrete objects to abstract concepts.

Numerical rods, beads (units of 1s, 10s, and 100s), numeral cards, cubes (binomial and trinomial), and counters (all pictured below), are some of the concrete tools used to symbolize mathematical abstractions.
montessori toys

A child does not simply learn to count as an abstract process; rather the child understands the concept of “how many” because she can use her hands as an aid. Yet a child is capable of doing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division by using other concrete materials (besides their hands), if the right tools are provided. A young child can learn how to do math equations when combinations such as "3+2=5" are provided in a fascinatingly real way that can be truly, and concretely, absorbed by the child.

Like all Montessori materials, the mathematics materials are designed so that each one forms the basis for the next, in increasing complexity. This learning process is done in such a way that the child who is using these materials experiences the excitement of discovering the concepts for himself, as part of a natural educational progression.

Stay tuned for the next installment about Montessori Materials - "Language: From Spoken to Written Language."

To see a Montessori preschool in operation, come visit Otoch Paal Community Center in Akumal Pueblo. Otoch Paal welcomes visitors who are interested in seeing how a Montessori center operates. Classes are in session from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visitors are asked to come between 9 and 10:30 a.m.

How you can help? As a non-profit community-based learning center, Otoch Paal does not generate sufficient funds to pay for all necessary school improvements. Monetary donations and donations in kind are always welcome. Donations can be made directly at the school. Or more information can be found at: http://montessoriaroundtheworld.org/otoch.html/

The Rotary Club of Fort Collins, Colorado has already raised money for one new roof but they are still working on raising funds for the second (and last) grass roof that needs to be replaced at Otoch Paal (for more information, read the Sac Be newsletter from September 2008). If you are interested in donating to the roof project, please contact Ron Rockvam at the email address below. Are you part of a Rotary Club that wants to get involved? Contact Ron Rockvam of the Foothills Rotary Club at: dvantage@msn.com

Are you associated with a Montessori school that could donate used learning materials for the preschool/kindergarten classroom? Contact Eleonor Bermudez Ferrer, of Otoch Paal, or Ellie Zucker, parent.

Directions to Otoch Paal: The school is located near the back of Akumal Pueblo, on the Northern edge of the town. It can be reached by following the Pueblo’s main street (avenida) to the fourth block on the right hand side of the street. After passing the secondary and kindergarten schools (which are on the main street), turn right at the corner where the kindergarten is located and continue to the next corner. Otoch Paal is next to the kindergarten and the entrance is at the far corner, near the town’s edge.

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