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 Mater