Make Division Easy for Kids with Montessori Decimal Materials
Division With Montessori Base 10 Decimal Materials
When most of us think about learning division, we remember sitting in our lesson looking at a funny looking symbol and talking about ways to split apart pizza. Typically division isn’t introduced until the middle of Elementary school. In a Montessori school, or Montessori homeschool, division concepts are presented as early as five-years-old. These concepts can be grasped from a young age with the help of Montessori golden beads, or the ShillerLearning decimal materials.
Montessori Makes Math Concepts Easy to Grasp With Hands-On Learning
Math doesn’t have to be hard or intimidating for the homeschool parent to teach. Division especially seems to be something that parents worry about introducing. With the Montessori method, division can be presented in a non-threatening fun way which allows the child to thrive. By utilizing manipulatives and hands-on multisensory learning, we engage the child in many ways which help reinforce the concepts in a kid-friendly way.
The decimal materials are our starting point for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They are utilized in counting, sorting, balancing, and much more throughout preschool and elementary education. By utilizing something children are already familiar with, new concepts are less scary to learn. Decimal materials provide a visual, tactile, and kinesthetic way to learn division. By engaging the auditory system through songs and listening to directions, division becomes a whole-body experience that sticks.
What are the Montessori Decimal Materials?
Traditionally in a Montessori school, you will find a golden bead set utilized for decimal materials. While these sets are beautiful, they’re also large and quite costly. The ShillerLearning decimal materials serve as a more cost effective option which take up less space as well.
These materials are kept in a wooden tray out on the shelf. There is 1 plastic 1,000 cube, as well as 16 cardboard 1,000 cubes. 27 hundred flats, 27 ten rods, and 100 unit cubes. These materials form the basis for grasping number size as well as serving as manipulatives for solving equations.
Check out what these materials look like on a homeschool shelf in this video:
Beginning Division With Young Students.
The decimal materials are introduced very early on. First, the unit cubes are introduced as children learn numbers 0-9, then 10 rods are introduced and children work on numbers up through 99. Children also learn how to exchange 10 units for a tens rod. Next, the hundreds flats and thousands cubes are incorporated for making larger numbers and addition and subtraction. When we get to multiplication and division, these materials are familiar to the student.
A student’s first introduction to division comes in building numbers with unit cubes.
Here is an example of how that first lesson might look:
The teacher or parent asks the student to make a number with unit cubes (let’s use eight as our example)
The student takes out eight unit cubes and places them in a row at the top of the work area
Next the teacher, or parent, shows the student how to break the group of eight into two even groups of four
Groups of two are made next
Then, the eight cubes are separated into eight groups of one
Last we take out 32 unit cubes and demonstrate all the different groupings of eight that are possible
As you can see, this is basic division made easy. This can be repeated with any number so long as it divides evenly.
Another great early division lesson begins in a similar way to building numbers. A 3 or 4 digit number can be created with the number cards. Typically, a number that can easily be divided by two is best to start with. The student will then build that number out of the decimal materials. Next, the parent or teacher says “now we will divide this number by two” and will demonstrate how to divide the materials into two even piles. Together the number representing each group will be determined and made out of number cards. If desired, the materials can be combined again and broken apart further as above.
Moving Away From The Decimal Materials
Once a student feels comfortable and confident using the decimal materials for basic division as above, we move into more advanced skills. Students will use the decimal materials to work on division with remainders, division with exchange, and will work through many division problems with the materials.
The ultimate goal in Montessori is for a student to move onto being able to solve equations without the materials at all.
The first transition away from decimal materials is division using number tiles only. The process is similar to the process of learning division with the decimal materials. Typically around third or fourth grade we begin to move away from using decimal materials, but students may use them as long as they need.
The decimal materials are used in over 60 lessons in our Math Kit I. Check it out today and get your student on the path to learning division.
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Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Colorado. She loves Colorado’s outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.