Saturday, 17 March 2012

Learning through Play at Montessori: Numbers

Children just love learning numbers - from counting 'one, two' when changing shoes to joining in with number songs to counting biscuits at snack time.

When they are ready to do some more formal learning, they have special Montessori number rods for counting up to 10 and sandpaper numbers to learn the shapes of the symbols through sight, sound AND touch. Tracing the sandpaper letters lets them feel the numbers so they can start to write them themselves. A tray with sand or salt is great for practice. If they are not happy with the shape they’ve made they just shake it and have another go!



They soon learn that their age is a number, their house has a number, and that count-downs are fun, especially down to their birthday.

Our children's learning is not limited to the classroom. In the garden they play games like hopscotch and boules and they love parking their cars in numbered parking bays. The older children write on printer labels to number the cars, front and back, and sometimes match the car numbers to the bays.


A combination of fun indoor and outdoor learning activities helps to keep the children’s love of learning alive and well!

A few days after I wrote the first part of this blog I was proud to be a witness to one of our girls taking things further on her own initiative. Suddenly, there she was, lying on her tummy on the floor with a big piece of computer paper and a felt tip pen, writing a series of numbers. She worked with deep concentration. When I took a few photos of her and her work she leaned back and stayed relaxed on the floor, with a big happy grin on her face.


Later that afternoon she took her work out into the garden and decided to cut out some of the numbers and sellotape them onto the cars. A small event, but a meaningful culmination of years of indirect preparation. It needed the preparation with the early counting, the number rods, the sandpaper numbers, the outdoor car park and the firm confidence in the child that she has the freedom to take her resources and lie on the floor in the middle of the classroom to do her writing. 

Being a witness to this joyful learning is a very rewarding experience. If only we could give this experience to all children. Can we?  

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