Montessori Monday 21 2013/14
The Sandpaper Numerals are a Montessori essential: simple,beautiful and naturally motivating to the child. Like the Sandpaper Letters, the numerals present children with a tactile experience of the shape of the numeral. They are typically presented in small sets, as seen above, of only two or three numerals at a time. Initially working with a teacher, the child learns how to feel the numerals, internalizing the shape of each numeral by experiencing it with his or her whole hand.
The numerals are designed for the child to hold his or her nondominant hand on the blank space and feel the numeral with his or her dominant hand. You'll notice in this image that two of the numerals are oriented on the table with the space for the child's hand on the left, while the numeral "1" is oriented upside-down. This is a great example of a child who has begun working with a material but has not yet identified the control of error. As he explores the numerals more often and with more precision, he'll notice that the "1" is upside down and correct it. In the meantime, the teacher will let him explore independently, avoiding interrupting the work before the child notices the difference himself. If the child were to continue reversing numerals (and especially if he were to do so with a numeral which was not symmetrical like the "1" is), the teacher would wait until another time to give the child a second presentation on how to lay out the numerals, silently drawing the child's attention to the correct orientation.
As the child masters naming and identifying each of the numeral shapes, he or she will be able to combine the Sandpaper Numerals with materials in quantity, like the Number Rods or practice his or her attention and concentration through Distance Games or, eventually, introduce the Sandpaper Numerals to a younger child.Knowing there is nothing in the "mind that that was not first in the hand," these materials offer early, foundational and concrete understanding of concepts the child will use for the rest of his or her life.
Catherine McTamaney, Ed.D.
Christopher Academy Alumna