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Math: September 2019: Age 8

Enjoyment Matters

Math is a subject that I have always found intimidating. Well, actually, I don't remember having any negative associations with math at primary school, but my secondary school experience certainly made up for that. I found the secondary school math content so mind numbingly boring and was led to believe that it was completely irrelevant to my life. I burned all of my school books as soon as I passed my final exams as I was so happy and relieved to be done with them!

What I've come to understand about math is that so little of what I learned at secondary school has been of use to me in real, adult life. I understand enough math to work out the area of my bathroom floor and order laminate. I understand enough math to work out the best deal on cat food. I understand enough math to run my own business. Math is not my strength, but I'm no longer intimidated by it. I'm keen for my daughter to foster a love for math and my priority is that she has a concrete understanding of how math relates to life.

Math Through Play

Bean is newly 8 and her interest in math is strong. She takes great pleasure in counting and solving mental math problems, and would be working at age related expectations for number and calculation if she was able to record her findings on paper. Almost everything that she has learned to date in relation to math has been learned through play and through real life experiences.

We do not follow a math curriculum, and never have, although we have dipped our toes in a few. I am yet to find a 'pick up and go' curriculum that meets the needs and interests of my kinaesthetic learner, while also being affordable and simple to follow. What I have invested in is some lovely, tactile math materials, which Bean has free access to from an Ikea Raskog Trolley in our dining room. I set out these materials as part of our toy rotation, and offer more structured sessions during our main lesson blocks.

Math Materials

Below are some of the math materials that we will be using this year, along with a few of our favourite math books and games.

Montessori Hundred Board

I bought ours a few years ago from Absorbent Minds Montessori, and it proved to be a great investment, as has been very well used. We started using it with numbers 1-10, then progressed to 20, and so on. The tiles are wipe clean, so you can mark out patterns, e.g. odd and even numbers. Bean's favourite activities are to order the numbers on the board, and fill in the missing numbers.

Montessori Place Value Cards

I bought these at the same time as the Hundred Board, but we've only recently been utilising them for their intended purpose. Until recently, they've been used a lot during play, as tickets, prices, labels and signs, all of which have contributed to Bean's developing number sense.

Wooden Cuisennaire Rods

Again, we have had these for a few years, and they have been well used during play. This past academic year I've been beginning to explore how they can be used during lessons, but haven't been able to source a decent book of lesson plans. There are, however, lots of video tutorials on YouTube.

Wooden Base 10 Set

I bought this set a few years ago (and rather impulsively) from Absorbent Minds Montessori, and it's been gathering dust as I didn't really know how to use it. This summer I tracked down this Base Ten Activity Book from Learning Resources, so we'll be giving these activities a try this coming year.