Last semester Astroboy was on a counting spree. By the end of the semester, we’d kind of covered the end of “counting” as it was presented in my album. But he still wanted to count. How much does he like to count? On our drive to swimming, he’d suddenly start counting from 1 to whatever he can get to. He managed to get to 300 with very minimum help for me. When we do any other math materials (addition, multiplication, operations), you can see what he really enjoys is counting the beads. I did not see this before with Thumper. It’s fascinating to watch a child at work in their sensitive period.
But what materials can I use in the classroom? I was at a loss as to what to do until I bought the bead cabinet for Thumper to learn skip counting since she’s doing multiplication. During my research of the bead cabinet arrows, it finally dawned on me that I should introduce linear and skip counting because the beads are way longer. Now, if you read the Australian Montessori Council and their National Curriculum guide, or even Info Montessori it’s spelled out right there, Counting or Continuation of Counting. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me other than the fact that linear and skip counting is all the way at the end of my album and I was told during my training that kids don’t really get to linear and skip counting. Plus, it’s all the way at the end of my album! Somehow I thought that meant it’s the end of the sequence. We rushed through these presentations during training since it was the last day. If you look at the album though, it says age of introduction is 4. Maybe the instructor was really talking about the concept of squaring and cubing.
Anyways, so now I know if someone were to ask me. For counting, after the intro materials, teens and tens, hundred board, use the bead chains.
During prep week, Astroboy said he was bored and was happy to do the 1000 bead chain work when I suggested. Now, before Christmas break, we played a lot of Hundred Board games. He got really good at reading up to 100, 200, and 1100. It doesn’t mean he knows what comes before or after a number, how to count that high, he’s just good at reading them. However, I’m glad we did all this prep work because he didn’t have to learn how to read the numbers on top of counting the numbers. This is why I suggested the 1000 bead chain. Thumper wanted to join in as well. Which turned out to be a good thing.
Because the classroom is a mess, I had the kids lay out the beads in a circle over two rugs. The kids had fun laying out the beads together. Once I dumped the bead chain arrows out, Astroboy got discouraged. Too many arrows. Thumper on the other hand, got right to work sorting them. It’s obvious she has a better grasp of the numbers and their relationship with each other. After showing Astroboy laying the arrows for #1-#9, #10, #20, he and Thumper worked together to lay out the rest. He laid the arrows for the first few 10’s then got tired. That’s what he says when he doesn’t want to do a long work. So I gave him sets of numbers in hundreds (110, 120, 130, etc) and had him find them in order to give to Thumper, who for some reason really wanted to lay them out.
When they were done, we admired their handiwork and counted backward. Though he found the work of laying out arrows from 1-1000 tedious, he painstakingly walked and counted backward along the chain.
I wanted to talk about Thumper’s counting and counting in Chinese. You’re supposed to introduce that huge cube to count to 10000, or was it 1,000,000 in Elementary. We haven’t gotten to it because I haven’t had time to make the material. But Thumper’s been showing her sensitive period for counting as well, in a not as noticeable and different way. Several times, she counted spontaneously in the car to measure how long it takes, in seconds, to get home from swimming. She goes along with Astroboy when he counts and goes higher. Both kids like to use big numbers, even though they have no concept what they mean when they say “I love you 100,000,000 times.” What was evident though, through a bit of assessment last semester, was that Thumper didn’t have a firm grasp of reading and counting in the 1000s nor does she know how to count to 10000. 10,000 is actually the highest number you count to in Chinese before the counters “repeat”.