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4 Nov 2013

Montessori Material Explained : The Stamp Game

Montessori Material Explained : The Stamp Game

Author: Admin  /  Categories: Curriculum  / 

The stamp game is a tool for learning and reinforcing knowledge of the four maths operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  Typically it is used by children (5 years +) for both static and dynamic (carrying the 1) equations.

The stamp game directly corresponds to the golden bead material which gave the child exposure to the decimal system.  It is just more abstract, yet concretely demonstrates the maths process to young children. It prepares the child for pencil and paper work, and memorization of facts.  Once introduced, the Stamp Game provides opportunities for individual practice.

The stamp game has stamp sized flat, wooden squares that come in three colours: green (‘1’),blue (‘10’) and red (‘100). Each stamp of 1000 is green marked with ‘1000’.  The child uses a ruler, pencil and a gridded piece of paper to right the problem.

How it works

This example is for simple static (no carrying) addition.   Problem : 3,245 + 2,312

  • The child writes the problem in his book.
  • The child forms and lays out in columns the quantity for the first addend (3,245) and places a ruler under it.
  • Beneath the ruler, the child forms the second addend (2,312) making sure that the quantity is arranged in columns.
  • The child removes the ruler leaving the two addends/quantities still separate.
  • Starting from the units, the child now moves the second quantity up to join the first.  
  • The child counts the number of stamps in each column and notes the answer (5,557) in his book.
  • This material works in a similar fashion for multiplication, division and is also used for dynamic work - children learn the concept of carrying, as they literally carry stamps to exchange them.

To see how other examples work:

What’s the benefit for my child?

Each child receives the lesson individually from the teacher.  The lesson is given when the teacher recognises that the child is ready – academically and emotionally, ie. in a frame of mind toreceive the knowledge and therefore enjoy real learning.  This attention to your child is only possible through this individualised approach of Montessori.

The stamp game employs the hand and engages the mind to absorb the maths concepts much more fully than working only with pencil, paper and worksheet, as is the norm.  The child can use this material to do a great range of maths work, making it something they can return to again and again.  Working in pairs with the material to solve problems also provides peer-to-peer learning opportunities. 

For some children maths work comes easily and for others it takes longer, but with the Montessori materials the concepts are so clearly demonstrated that children will gain a much better understanding and retention of those concepts.  Some can progress quickly and with more complexity.  Others can return as often as needed to the materials to reapply and reinforce their knowledge.

Description of the material:

It is called the stamp game as the original material was made up of big sheets of paper covered in perforations like that of stamps. The children would actually tear off from the sheets the number of stamps needed and then glue them down into their notebook or a piece of paper. This was rather expensive, so it was substituted by wood and plastic material later on. 

The material is now made of little wooden squares in hierarchic colours (green for units, blue for tens, red of hundreds and green for unit of thousands) with the numbers 1 (units), 10 (tens), 100 (hundreds) and 1000 (thousands)  written on them (1, 10, 100, 1000). 

The little stamps are of the same size and shape but you can tell them apart by the colour and number written on them.
This is a very interesting material, as the stamps represent both quantity and symbol. It demonstrates a passage to abstraction through the use of place values. We’re moving in the direction of working with place values for distinguishing one digit from another, that is, the position occupied by a digit determines its value.

We use this material to work with all four mathematical operations – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. What makes working with this material different from working with the decimal system materials is that the children work individually with the stamp game. Children only work with the stamp game after they’ve worked with the golden bead material. Therefore, any child working with the stamp game already knows concepts related to the above mathematical operations.

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