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Nurturing Number Sense - 10,9,8…here we go

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

An interaction with numbers in various ways is essential to develop an innate understanding of numbers. The concept of numbers and developing a number sense is important to do math comfortably at higher levels. Touching, feeling, sensing numbers gives a deep understanding as opposed to doing operations in abstract quantities the child doesn't relate to. It's about asking questions like,

What does '10' really mean? How do we picture '100'? Can we imagine '1000' elephants together? Where do these numbers fit in our world or everyday life?

A variety of Montessori math materials can be used which gives the child a concrete understanding of numbers before moving to abstract operations on it. The ganit mala or the bead chain, counting bundles of sticks, the dienes blocks coupled with the number cards, and even the simple yet effective exercise of guessing the quantity of random number of objects like beads, pebbles and cowrie shells. It's wonderful how something as tangible as a bead or a pebble can contribute to the development of number sense.

The next phase of this mathematical journey involves familiarising children with the concept of place value. Changing one place value into another, how the place value system uses a base of 10, these are all to be physically seen, touched, changed by tender fingers grasping at the material. This creates a strong visual and impressionistic idea of the numbers along with developing motor skills for tiny hands.

All these early experiences lay a solid foundation for mental arithmetic, fostering keen observation skills, the art of estimation, and an intuitive grasp of how numbers interact and relate to one another. It's a joyful sight to witness our Lower Elementary kids immersing themselves in these activities, and it's even more heartening to see our Middle and High School cohorts eagerly joining in the guessing games. The continuum of exploration in Mathematics never ends, and it all begins with those formative moments of touching, feeling, and playing with numbers.


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