I mentioned last week that I have a new interest in the Montessori way of teaching. I love the preschool ideas and the practical life instruction. I have found in the past week that information on the elementary- or 6-12 class- is hard to find. There is a wealth of information on setting up a 3-6 classroom, but not so much on the older kids. So I have been adding things to our "classroom" and rearraging our existing items in more appealing ways.
One thing I have been making is this:
The beads are a major mathematics manipulative. And if you buy the ones through the Montessori stores they are ridiculously expensive. We actually don't really have much in the way of manipulatives. My kids have never used them much for counting. They just learned by counting things; while building, reading etc. I like it that way. Rylan was a natural when it came to addition and didn't take long to go counting objects to abstract problems. We own cuisenaire rods, but they aren't marked so it makes it hard to know which rod is 8 and which is 6. I can see a lot of uses for these beads. Montessori uses them for everything from counting to understanding higher numbers, to mulitplication and square root. So I went to Hobby Lobby- lucky for me the beading section was in the flyer last week and plastic beads were all 50% off. So I bought a bunch and used some wire left over from the chicken coop and started stringing. I made 10 sets of the bead stair (above) and I also am working on long chains- about 10 long- of each number for use in skip counting. Rylan need some work with that- esp since he will be coming into multiplication before too long. I set the beads out and they have loved "play" with them so far.
And Cohen has taken to these changes like a moth to a flame. He is at the perfect age for this. He's pouring and counting and scooping. I made him a salt tray to write in. He has actually been trying to write some letters- can do a c, o and i. He was so excited and ran to find his dad after each letter, yelling "Daddy, come see my "o"!!" Today I made this sorting set and he wanted to use it immediately. (excuse the smile, he's at the stage where he puts this grin on when he hears the camera...I tried to get one of him actually working but he would here the focus and look up with this smile)
Once he was done, I asked him to roll up the mat and put it away, which he did, but then he wanted to use the red mat. So I found an old counting game we made last year. An egg carton, numbered to 12 and enough beads to fill each with the appropriate number. I think for a not quite 3 yr old he is an excellent counter. He did all of them. A little help near the end keeping his 1:1 correspondance straight but overall he did it alone, counting the beads one at a time to put them in the right spot.