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Added Feb 18, 2015

The Teen Boards

The Montessori Math materials establish in children a firm understanding of the concepts of quantity and numeral before asking them to make use of that knowledge in mathematical operations. For example, we teach the number rods, which establish the child\\'s understanding of the quantities of one through ten, then teach the number cards, which establish the child\\'s understanding of the numerals from one through ten. When the child has demonstrated an understanding of both, we combine them to build on the child's existing knowledge.

The same structure holds true when introducing children to the numerals and quantities from eleven through nineteen. This is a special set, because these numbers follow their own rules. We don't say, "Ten One."  We say, "Eleven." We don't say, "Ten Two."  We say, "Twelve." As such, the Teen Boards help children to establish the connection between quantities and numerals for these unusually named components.

The child, who has already been introduced to the bead stair, with quantities from one to nine, and to the golden ten bar, is first presented the quantities in isolation. A teacher may introduce eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen and so on by using just the beads. Around the same time, the teacher may introduce the teen boards, showing the child how to slide a unit numeral (1,2,3,4,5,etc.) over a ten to create the new numeral (11,12,13,14,15, etc.) Finally, the child can combine the numerals and quantities together, building from eleven through nineteen independently.

Similar boards exist for the tens, introducing ten, twenty, thirty, forty, and so on. The Teen Boards, however, hold a special place as a way of translating the rule-breaking names of some of the earliest quantities the child encounters. By introducing them directly and early, the Montessori materials allow the child to master even the quirky exceptions to the rules of numeracy.


Catherine McTamaney, Ed.D.

Christopher Academy Alumna

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