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Children pick up simple number ideas from their everyday experiences. A child might be
able to say she has two sisters and able to point her fingers and say number names up to five
or ten. Knowing how to count is one thing. Using the skills is quite another thing. It is the
Directress’s task to discover how real this knowledge is, clarify it, consolidate it and gradually
extend it.
The following activities are useful for illustrating, discussing and reinforcing simple number
• Number Songs, Rhymes and Stories. Some examples are
Songs, rhymes and stories are attractive and effective when young children make use of
their imagination and imitate, characters and actions.
• Dancing to Rhythms – Children beat on the drum, clap their hands while other children
are dancing and the Directress keeps everyone in time by calling out the beat herself,
‘One, two, three, one, two, three”.
• Counting Arms, Legs, Ears, etc. – “How many eyes has she ?”; “How many legs do you
have ?”
• Bead Threading to Oral Instructions and Demonstration- thread beads onto string and
encourage the child to count as they thread.


Young children are aware of the things in their environment. They become aware of single
object and also set of objects. Encourage them to make sets with movable objects. Sorting
activities will increase their awareness of set of objects. When they begin to use number
names, they often associate these with things or objects, e.g. one pencil, two girls, etc. At this
stage, “one”, “two”, “three”, etc. has no meaning by themselves. Directress should recognise
this and discipline herself to use number names associated with objects, e.g. ask :
“How many pencils have I here?”
rather than :
“How many have I here?”, etc.
For any particular number name, say “four”, early work should provide many experiences of
“four things”, frequent matching of one set of four things with a different set of four things,
a set of three things or a set of five things. This should lead to conclusions such as there is
one more bead in the set of four beads than in the set of three beads or there are more beads
in the set of five beads than in the set of four beads.
Such activities eventually lead children to begin to ‘abstract’ the idea of “four” and put sets
in order, according to the number of objects they contain.
Montessori specially designed her apparatus for teaching mathematical concepts so that the
gap from concrete to abstract is made smaller. For example, the Number Rods are not as
abstract as a spoken or written number. And yet, they are not as real as an everyday item, for
example buttons, pencils. Therefore, when the child uses the Number Rod, he is, in fact,
moving towards the abstract – the Number Rods represent an abstract idea of number.


(e.g. Learning the numerals “1, 2, 3” using the Sandpaper Numerals)
Period 1 – Naming
“This is”
Always isolate in the first period.
“This is Number 1”
Move out of the way and replace with the next numeral
“This is Number 2”
(Repeat for Number 3)
It is good to repeat names a few times and often worth asking the child to say it.
Period 2 – Association/Recognition
“Show me”
Place all the cards on the table in sequence
Math must be taught in sequence.
Ask the child to show you the respective number asked. Repeat several times,
e.g. “Show me 1, which is 2 ? , Where is Number 3”
Period 3 – Recall
“What is this ?”
Isolate the card, starting with the first card
Ask the child to name the object.
“What is this?”
point to object.