7 Montessori-inspired Ways To Learn Numbers Using Blocks

Inspire a love of math from the very beginning with these 7 hands-on activities using wooden number blocks!

child playing with wooden number blocks

For many Montessori parents, math is their very favorite part of the curriculum. Parents often remark, “if only I had learned math like that, I bet I would’ve loved it!”

Montessori math is extremely hands-on, especially for younger children, and aims to teach the “why” behind each new concept, rather than focusing on memorization. 

The Wee Gallery bamboo numbers and the Oioiooi Number Play Blocks lend themselves perfectly to hands-on Montessori-inspired math activities for toddlers through kindergarteners. Here are a few ideas to get you started!

 

Toddler Number Play Ideas

 

Trace the number

 

Children learn through their hands and giving them a tactile experience with numerals really helps them remember them. This not only helps kids learn the names of the numbers, it prepares their hand for writing the numbers when they’re ready! 

HOW TO PLAY: 

  1. Lay out numbers 1-3.
  2. Show your tot how to carefully trace each number with their pointer and middle finger while saying the name. 

 

Play a “bring me” game

 

If your child is just beginning to work with numbers, start with just 1-3 before moving on to the whole number set.

HOW TO PLAY: 

  1. Invite your child to put the numbers in order, helping as needed.
  2. Ask them to bring you the number of objects to match each numeral. For example, you might say, “can you bring me 8 race cars?” or “can you bring me 3 pompoms?”
  3. Show your child how to count the objects and line them up under each numeral. In counting them, they will realize if they’ve brought the wrong number and can correct the mistake themselves, another hallmark of Montessori.

 

Get crafty

 

This activity gives children a great visual of how big each number is. It’s also an exercise in organization and precision as they practice lining up the dots under the correct numeral.

HOW TO PLAY: 

  1. Help your child order the numbers from 0-9.
  2. Write each number along the top of a paper.
  3. Invite your child to paint or draw one dot under the numeral 1, two dots under the numeral 2, etc. Stickers also work really well for this!
  4. Looking for some more crafty inspiration for your artistic tot? Line the numbers up and invite your child to shape each number from play dough!

 

“I spy the number 9”

 

This activity is beneficial not only because it’s a game which makes practicing numbers fun, but because it allows the child to find the number you’ve asked for, rather than asking them to say a number you point to. This is called the “second period” of learning in Montessori and is easier for kids than identifying the numbers on their own. They don’t have to recall the name of the number all on their own, you give them the name and they simply need to find it, setting them up for success.

This is a fun one to play with a sibling as well!

HOW TO PLAY: 

  1. Sit by your child and lay some numerals out on the table, randomly mixed up. Use just 3 numerals for an easier activity or all of the numerals to make it more advanced.
  2. Say, “I spy with my little eye the number 9!” See if your child can find the number.

 

Hide and seek

 

Children never tire of a game of hide and seek. This number hunt will soon become a new favorite and provides a range of benefits including problem solving, memory testing and active play.

HOW TO PLAY: 

  1. Ask your tot to close their eyes while you hide the numbers around their room.
  2. Invite them to go on a number hunt.
  3. Each time they find a number, practice identifying it together and count up to that number together. Once your child has found all of the numbers, they can put them in order.

 

Can you make 15?

 

One of the hardest early math skills for many children to master is learning the teens. The language for the teens is tricky with so many exceptions to the rule like eleven, twelve and fifteen. This means the more practice the better!

HOW TO PLAY: 

  1. Once your tot has been introduced to the teens, play a game where you form a number, such as 14, with the numerals and your child practices naming that number.
  2. Invite them to form a number for you to name as well!
  3. Once your child has mastered the teens, you can move on to bigger numbers like 56 or 98.
  4. Another fun activity is to help them to form the numbers for everyone in the family’s ages to make it more fun!

 

Go on a scavenger hunt

 

This activity gives your child an in-depth experience with each number, helping them to really internalize what the numeral looks like and what quantity is associated with it. It’s also a super fun way to give a neighborhood walk a sense of purpose and adventure!

HOW TO PLAY: 

  1. Ask your child to choose a number from the bag and take it on a walk around the neighborhood. See how many times you can find that number in real life!
  2. Practice finding both the numeral (such as the number 3 in an address) and the number (such as 3 little flowers). Choose a different number every time!

 

While you may or may not have fond memories of learning math yourself, it really can be an enjoyable experience for kids if you can take the pressure off and keep it hands-on. Making these early math skills feel like a fun discovery is such a gift to your child and sets them up for a lifetime of feeling confident and enjoyment in their math journey. 

 

Continue exploring

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