If you are new to Montessori, then you might be noticing some re-occurring colors in the arithmetic materials. There is a reason our logo looks the way it does :)

So many of the arithmetic materials are built on these three colors that represent hierarchies in our decimal system.  We use green for ones, blue for tens and red for hundreds. BUT it doesn't stop there. The pattern now repeats as we move higher and higher in the system. Thousands are green, ten thousands are blue and hundred thousands are red. And so on and so on.  This will help you to understand the majority of the arithmetic materials.

So let's start with a bit of basics here.  The first materials using hierarchies that children are introduced to is, of course, the Golden Bead material, where ones, tens, hundreds and thousands are concrete, physically represented, easy to compare and contrast, as well as calculate. They can get an actual feel of how much bigger and heavier 1000 is compared to 1. So they are getting a solid (pun intended) understanding for the connections between the hierarchies in the decimal system.


And as they work with these, they are using number cards with the digits written down, each in the hierarchy colors.  They can puzzle these together to create large numbers. So they would lay out the cards on a mat as shown above, and then they could find an amount of golden bead, then find the corresponding cards for each hierarchy.

Now the fun part is when they lay all those number cards together on top of each other, aligned on the right, in order:

  A little magical, isn't it?

As the materials (and the child's intellect) moves from concrete to more abstract, we find the next material going from an actual cube of 1000 beads to a green square with the number 1000 written on it, red square with 100, blue square for 10 and green square for 1. 


This is the material we know as the Stamp Game. (There's a really cool history of why Maria Montessori called this the Stamp Game, but that's for another day.) This material is the big jump into a world of working with hierarchies within the decimal system, from simple and compound multiplication and division, to squaring and square root.

And all of that was to explain what we have done at home to support our math work!

Enter my very large pile of hobby foam, in green, blue and red ;) We have, as you might have guessed, been cutting lots of squares.  We made our own stamp game, as well as larger squares for an extension of the Stamp Game using dice and a lot of running (more explanation later). We are also using the larger squares to put together a checkerboard (and of course I added light blue, pink and light green for the decimal checkerboard).  Just for fun, I have crocheted a small checkerboard for doing square root. Again, more on that later.

One fun thing I wanted to share today, though - my 7-year-old was working on division and rather than using beads on the division board, we went with "stamps". But what could we use instead of the skittles, so we could divide our stamps between something? Then it hit me - pawns from our chess set. It worked like a charm, and off she went, doing her division work.

Actually, going back to that story about why Maria Montessori's original materials was called the Stamp Game... it actually fits with our theme of "use what you have around you".  At the time, collecting postage stamps was popular for the children, and she used stamps of different values to create her activity. 

Stay tuned. Tomorrow we'll continue taking a look at the sequence of materials that utilize the green, blue and red hierarchy pattern. For now, I hope you're inspired to start collecting some colored card stock or or even get your kids coloring or painting squares. Or, even easier, click on the link HERE and download a simple printable that your children can cut up (practical life skills!)

Enjoy and stay safe!