If I had only one material with which to teach mathematics from Kindergarten to grade 6, it would be grid paper with 1cm squares. Over the years, I have used grid paper to teach counting, skip counting, multiplication, and area of rectangles and triangles to children in grades 1-6, including children in Special Education in grades 4-6. We have also used it for graphing (see earlier Dice Race post) for children in Kindergarten. If I didn’t have other materials, I would also use it for addition and subtraction.
The paper is simple and appealing to children. It can be used as a full sheet (10 x 10), half sheet (10 x 5), for the dice race (6 x 10), or with 2 rows of 10 squares for early counting exercises. Yesterday, several children in Kindergarten were using the paper for counting. I don’t tell them where they will end up of course, and what they tell me reveals their understanding of numbers. The child writing numbers on the 10 x 5 paper (it was his idea to start this) told me that he knew it would end up at 50, then showed me the rightmost column, saying: “10, 20, 30, then it will be 40, then 50”.
The other child working on the numbers (this time to 20) did not talk about where she would end up. This work was at my initiative, since I wanted to help her with practice on numbers to 20. She enjoyed it and did a second one, quickly, accurately and with confidence.
We also use this paper for practicing writing the child’s name – or any other letters and numbers the child chooses. Often, when the older children are writing numbers to 50 or 100, the younger ones will take out the same paper, sit with the older children, and write 0 or 1, happy to be doing the same work as the “big kids.”
As with many other activities in my posts, this is not from the Montessori curriculum, but rather has evolved through my work with the children. More on this paper and activities to come in later posts…