|Doing big math with the Montessori Checkerboard|
Before using the Checkerboard, the child has been introduced to basic operations and hierarchical materials through the use of the Golden Bead Material, the Bead Cabinet, basic operation Finger Charts, Bead Frames and the Montessori Hierarchical Material. The Montessori Checkerboard reinforces those concepts with a new way of presenting the information, while at the same time allowing the child to increase his knowledge and skill level.
My Favorite Lower Elementary Montessori Material: The Montessori Checkerboard
The Checkerboard has four rows and nine columns of 7 cm squares arranged in hierarchical colors: green for units; blue for tens; and red for 100s. These are the same hierarchical colors found in previous Montessori math materials. The columns range from the simple class to the millions, while the individual squares account for simple units through one billion! The individual rows not only represent place value, they represent the partial products of multi-digit multiplication. Squares located on the diagonal have the same place value. You can certainly do big math here!
As you can see, this is a BIG material. You really have to grow a bit to carry it! Then, you must return to the shelf to get the Checkerboard Bead Box. Both of these materials take up quite a bit of space. Setting up the Checkerboard involves more than just moving the hand. For a small child, it requires whole body movement.
The Montessori Checkerboard is a concrete material that allows the child to move along the passage of abstraction at his own pace. Because the child uses bead bars, there is no need to have multiplication facts committed to memory. A child may multiply large numbers while skip counting on the beads. With increased use, math facts are mastered. This is opposite to conventional wisdom that says a child may not do multi-digit multiplication without memorizing the multiplication tables.
In addition, the Checkerboard is carried over into the upper elementary math curriculum. Students continue to explore and develop their abstract multiplication skills using the Checkerboard to progress into category multiplication. It also serves as the precursor to the Montessori Decimal Checkerboard, which is similar in form and function, but allows students to learn about place value while multiplying decimal fractions.
|The Montessori Decimal Checkerboard is used in upper elementary mathematics|
There is a sense of awe when I invite children to their first lesson with the Checkerboard. They have seen their older peers working on it and see the work as a rite of passage. The older children see them and smile, knowing their young friends have joined the ranks of advanced mathematics!
|Lower elementary Montessori students gain a sense of accomplishment as they master the Checkerboard|
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Monday, October 29, 2012.