Teaching in a Montessori environment focuses on meaningful and concrete activities for the children. Taking mathematical concepts and using Montessori materials to introduce the concept in a carefully ordered sequence helps the child/ children to build a strong foundation of grounded concepts. The Sandpaper Numerals are an important foundational Montessori mathematics material that introduces the numerals 0 to 9 to children ages 2 and a half years onwards. Like other Montessori sandpaper materials, the sandpaper numerals are tactile, inviting the child to touch the rough sandpaper which will help reinforce the shape of the number as well as practice tracing the number. The distinct feel of the sandpaper and its contrast with the smooth board helps guide the student’s fingertips while they trace the symbols.
Objectives of the sandpaper numerals: - Direct purpose of the sandpaper numbers is to teach the child/ children the symbols that represent each number allowing them to visually identify any number from 0-9. - Due to the tactile feel of the number cards, the material also prepares the child/ children for the writing of numerals which can be an extension activity of the sandpaper numbers.
In Montessori teaching, the three-period lesson is important for the children because in each period lesson the child will be able to grasp the name and shape of the numerals. - First period: Associate sight and touch with the number (The teacher gives the child the number 1 and asks them to trace the shape of the number 1 with the index and middle fingers of her dominant hand in the direction it is written and says ‘This is 1’. The teacher will then ask the child to feel and trace the next number and ask to say the number.) - Second period: Perception (A child should be able to recognise the number shapes upon hearing the corresponding number. The teacher, pronouncing the number, asks the child for specific cards. If a child cannot recognise the number, the teacher must ask him/her to touch it.) - Third period: Reinforcement of the numbers (The teacher will point to each sandpaper number and ask ‘What is this number’. If the child is successful in saying the correct number, the numbers are repeated out of sequence.)
Tips on how to do the sandpaper numbers at home with your child/ children: Prepare a tray with sand/ flour/ rice and guide the child with writing the numbers on the tray with two fingers and follow the direction of the number.
“The things he/ she sees are not just remembered; they form a part of his/ her soul.”