I am very excited to announce my very first giveaway!! I have recently become an affiliate for Montessori Services. Montessori Services is a wonderful online store where you can shop for everything to prepare your Montessori environment at home. I mentioned this store in a past post of my favorite Montessori suppliers and they ranked second, but only because of the fact that they do not offer a wide variety of Montessori materials. They do rank first on my list for supplies to prepare the environment. If you are not familiar with Montessori, a prepared environment simply means that they classroom is set up so that the children can do all of their tasks independently. Lessons are set up with all of their materials together on low shelfs so they can be accessed easily. In the primary and toddler rooms, there are small versions of everything so that children don't need to use step stools or handle tools that are too large for them. Montessori Services has all of these wonderful supplies and many of them are offered in sets to make it even easier. They also have a sister site called For Small Hands that has even more tools in small sizes for young children.
I have a great item from Montessori Services that I would like to share with you. The Montessori Checkerboard Mat (Item# MA175) is a must have for anyone who will be using Montessori at home for elementary.
Corresponding numbers are written below each square
Bead bars 1-9 fit nicely in each square.
(These are 8mm beads)
This product would be great for Montessori classrooms as well but there is one feature that stands out for homeschoolers and that is its size. I have heard so many homeschoolers complain about how large the checkerboard is, and I thought about this too. Traditionally, a Montessori checkerboard is about 30 x 18 inches in size (depending on brand) and it is wooden. They are too big to place on a regular shelf, and even if you did have a shelf large enough, that is a lot of wasted space. In the homeschool environment, space is something we really need to think about. This lovely checkerboard mat from Montessori Services is made of fabric and rolls up neatly with a little ribbon to tie it closed. It fits quite nicely on the shelf with plenty of room for the beads and number chips on the same shelf.
This is an IKEA shelf with small cubby sizes openings. This shelf has the checkerboard mat rolled up (black), a felt place value mat for the stamp game (green), stamp game (bottom box) and white/gray number tiles (smaller box).
Another wonderful great feature of this checkerboard mat is just that it is fabric rather than wood. I know that in Montessori we love wooden materials. Wood always feels so nice in the hands and holds up nicely to use. This material is an exception in my opinion. When the beads are placed on the wooden checkerboard they often slide around and even roll off. Some say that this helps children learn to be more careful when using the material but I don't think its really necessary. In my experience, when beads roll it just frustrates the child and they don't really learn to be more careful they just don't want to use that material anymore. This checkerboard mat changes all of that. On the fabric the beads never roll, they stay exactly where they are placed. There is no unnecessary frustration when a bead is accidentally bumped into another square which ends in a wrong answer. Oh, and this checkerboard mat is also less expensive than any of the wooden versions I have ever seen.
I'd like to explain a little more about the Montessori Checkerboard for those who may not have used one before. The checkerboard uses the hierarchal colors (green = units, blue = tens, red = hundreds), and continues to hundred millions on the bottom row. As you go up in rows the numbers get larger. The second row starts with tens and goes to unit trillions. The third row starts with hundreds and goes to ten trillions and the top row starts with thousands and goes to hundred trillions. Children use these boxes for doing long multiplication.
In our introduction to this material, T simply placed beads on the mat to build numbers that I suggested (2,547).
The first calculation T did with the checkerboard, he worked through the problem: 7436 x 42.
First, he placed white number tiles on the bottom of the mat indicating the multiplicand (7436). Then he placed gray number tiles on vertically to indicate the multiplier (42). Then he flipped over the top digit of the multiplier (4) and worked only with the first row on the bottom (2). For each box, he multiplied that digit times the multiplier (6 x 2), (3 x 2), (4 x 2), (7 x 2). He then combined bead bars so that each box only had one bead bar in it. Next he flipped over the two multiplier tiles so that the top digit was showing (4). He continued in the same manner multiplying each digit of the multiplicand (6 x 4), (3 x 4), (4 x 4), (7 x 4).
Again he combined bead bars so that each box only had one bead bar in it.
Next comes the fun part, the diagonal slide. The bead bars in the upper row were slid down to the bottom row following their corresponding colors (i.e. the beads in the blue box would slide diagonally to the blue box below and so on for all colors). Lastly, the bead bars were combined, and exchanged if necessary, so that each box had only one bead bar. This gave T his answer with one digit in each place value box. He found that 7436 x 42 = 312,312.
These kind of huge numbers make lower elementary kids so excited. Once they see how they really can do this type of material they only want to choose larger and larger numbers to work with.
It is best for children to know their basic multiplication tables before doing this work but it is not necessary. Things will go much faster if they can just do the simple one digit multiplication in their heads but if they can not you don't have to hold off on this material. Just have them place that number of bead bars in the box and count them, then exchange the beads according to place value.
I have recieved this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, if you click on one of my links and then make a purchase, I will receive a small commission, it will cost you nothing as the customer. Thank your for supporting our homeschool.
Now that you have seen how much we love our new Montessori Checkerboard Mat, I'm sure that you want your own. Here is where my giveaway comes in. Montessori Services has graciously offered a $50 gift certificate to one lucky winner. You can use it towards one of these wonderful mats, or whatever else you choose from this store. Let me tell you, my shopping list for this store is long. If you would like to enter for this awesome prize please use the Rafflecopter widget below. This giveaway is only for residents of USA and Canada (no PO Boxes).
a Rafflecopter giveaway