Materials Highlight: Memorizing Addition Facts

Ahh, memorizing one’s addition facts. Brings back great memories, doesn’t it? For some of us this was a boring and necessary part of our education, but for others it was downright dreadful.

It’s rare to find any sort of information required to be memorized in a Montessori school. We would much rather teach our students why various things are, then have them learn rote processes that mean nothing to them.

Math facts, however, are the exception to this rule...sort of.

We absolutely work with our students to ensure they memorize all their basic facts, we just do it a bit differently. It’s not your typical flashcards-and-timed-drills approach, but a series of strategies that appeals to the child while still reaching the ultimate academic goal.

Memorizing facts is essential to solid numeric understanding and as preparation for efficiently completing more complicated problems later on. As you might imagine, we start this process when children are young, and we use specialized materials to help them feel and envision what the numbers are doing.

Addition Strip Board

Pictured above, this is the first material intended to be used while teaching children to memorize their addition facts. It includes a wooden, gridded board with numbers across the top. Numbers one through ten are written in red, followed by a red vertical line drawn down the board, and numbers eleven through eighteen written in blue. The material also includes a box filled with wooden blue and red strips in varying sizes to be used on the board.

There are many ways to use this board, and a Montessori guide will gradually walk the child through a series of lessons to teach different skills. The basic concept involves the child laying out one wooden strip on the board, then laying another beside it. This allows them to clearly see something like 7+3=10. The strip board is also used in conjunction with the tables of addition (more on those below).

Addition strip board lessons may include:

  • A first exercise introducing the child to the material and the basics of using it.