Multiplication in the Montessori Primary classroom is a favorite work. We have many materials for the children to do multiplication with. Multiplication is done with the golden bead material, the stamp game, the multiplication bead bars box, the small and large bead frames and more. In addition there are the multiplication boards - blank boards and answer boards. These are pictured above.
As with the division work in the classroom, language is key in the initial and subsequent presentations. In division we tell the children that we divide the dividen by giving an equal amount, no more no less, to each skittle (they collectively represent the divisor) on the board and that the answer is what one gets.
In multiplication we are also careful with our words and have made a slight difference in how we explain multiplication from traditional methods. Here is the key: instead of saying multiplication is 3 times 4, we say multiplication is the same number taken many times. So we would say 4 taken 3 times.
Why that language specifically? Because it makes logical sense to the child. Many children confuse the reference to time to the the telling of time. I remember during my first year of teaching, I read the equation 3 times 4 to a child and they looked up at me with these huge eyes and said, "I don't know how to tell time." I suddenly remembered my error and corrected my language and the child immediately understood. It really is easier to comprehend. Simply take 4 three times. With the multiplication bead bars a child literally takes out three four-bead-bars and places them one under the other and counts them. "This is so easy," is usually their comment because it actually is.
Multiplication Bead Bars in their box.
The multiplication bead board has numbers 1-10 printed across the top. There is a small grooved circle in which a red marker rests when not in use. Half way down the board on the left hand side there is a side slot for a numbered card to be placed into. Above it is an open top circle which allows the number to be seen. There are white cards also with the numbers 1-10 printed on them. Some teachers have the children carefully place all of the cards on the table in order with one at the bottom of the row and ten at the top. Others have the children leave the cards in their wooden box and have the children draw one card out at a time. Both ways are fine.
The child is also given a multiplication tables booklet or, after much work with this material, a sheet of single digit problems. The picture above shows the problem 5 taken 2 times. The number 5 card is inserted into the slide slot. The red marker is placed above the number two which tells the child where they need to stop - the last row of beads will be placed beneath it. The child then places five beads under the number one printed at the top of the board and then five more under the number two. Next, they count the total beads and find their answer. 5 taken 2 times equals 10.
The greatest challenge of this work is in the counting as the answers go up to 100. The child must be able to count to 100 first and therefore should have mastered the hundred board before having a lesson on this work. The other physical challenge is that the beads need to be carefully placed in their grooves or they roll off the board and then you see children on the floor, under their table looking for red beads. Another child or two soon joins the hunt. I show up and give the helpers a few kind words for their eagerness to help and then send them on their way back to their own work.
The real problem is that there are 100 red beads and that's it. So if a child is doing the problem 10 taken 10 times and a few of the beads were lost, they come over to you announcing that there aren't enough beads. Hint: Just for these moments - go to a bead store or craft store and buy similiar looking red beads and keep them in a small jar hidden from all eyes but your own and those of your assistants. These beads, like an extra small pink cube to top the pink tower are our emergency supplies such as bandages and bug spray are.
Next week I will post pictures of the children doing this work - I took some and after examining them closely found that the child I photographed was making a few errors - time to re-present...so no photo posts yet! But soon....