Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Stamp Game and a Request for Advice
Last week Kal-El began work on the stamp game. I have a question or two about the sequencing of this (at the end of the post), so if you are an experienced Montessorian and want to put in your two cents they will be welcomed with open arms!
The first day I put together a version of the old golden beads demonstration tray and Kal-El learned to associate the stamps with the correct amount of beads. That same day we moved on the formation of numbers with the stamps.
This is what my stamp game tray looks like right now. I do have the skittles and discs (kibbles and bits?) that go with it, but they can be removed for early work with the game.
If you have a really, really long memory you might recall that my stamp game is a hand-me-down from a friend who made her own. The stamps are made from uniformly cut pieces of cardboard that have been covered with printed out numbers against a colored background and taped. My friend says the tray is from an office supply store. I have seen videos of a store-bought stamp game in actions and I will say that the store-bought version has some distinct advantages over our DIY version, but it was nice to not have to buy something for once.
Here is an example from last week of Kal-El using the stamps simply to form numbers. I prepared a stack of index cards ahead of time with numbers written on them in colored ink. The stack I made had several examples of numbers of different sizes (2-, 3-, and 4-digit) and also with zeroes in various positions. I told Kal-El that there was no hurry, but after he built all of the numbers on those cards he would be ready for the next step. The first day he felt like building six, the second day he built 3, the third day he burned through the remaining ten in the stack.
In the above picture you might be able to spot the first problem with our DIY stamp game. Our stamps are HUGE. Kal-El loves his mat that I got him to go with the game, but as you can see above we would be hard-pressed to fit two addends on that mat with stamps this size. The second problem is that the taped corners of the stamps catch on the felt mat so it will be difficult to "sweep" ten stamps into the palm of our hand to make one of the smooth exchanges that make the stamp game so attractive.
The third problem, while I'm on the topic, is that the stamps fit in their designated spot only when they are relatively organized. It is nicer to be able to "sweep" ten stamps into your hand for an exchange and then "dump" them into their compartment.
Today he was super excited to receive his very own "stamp game book." All of the special things I make like this specifically for Kal-El are bright red because he is the "red ranger" at our house. Me Too's will be blue because he's the "blue ranger." They love vintage Power Rangers. I bring it up only so you won't be wondering how the color of the cover fits into a Montessori color-coding scheme. This is what you'll find inside:
I used the free stamp game paper that came with my Karen Tyler albums. You can find it online here. This one from The Montessori Print Shop would provide the color while using less ink and it is also free. I guess I was feeling extra-colorful the day I chose. I bound the book using my handy, dandy Comb Binding Machine that I barely used during primary and has become indispensable during our transition to elementary.
Most of the pages in the book are completely blank. Last night I filled the first three pages with examples of static addition using a variety of 2-, 3-, and 4- digit numbers. The photo above was taken before I showed it to Kal-El so it is still missing the "plus" and "equal" signs. In the math sequence we are following the stamp game is the first time the child records his or her work and it is at this point that they are introduced to the operational signs and terminology of equations. I wrote in the "plus" and "equal" signs as I explained to Kal-El what they meant.
And here he is recording his own work! Today he learned the vocabulary "addend" and "sum." He also learned how to write the "plus" and "equal" sign and added them to the equations in his book. He started out by announcing that he thought he might complete the "WHOLE FIRST PAGE!" (He gets really excited.) But, as it turns out, he finds the stamp game addictive and completed all nine problems.
So...this brings me to TWO questions. In the AMI primary math album that I use, the collective exercises with the golden beads are taught as a group. Within a handful of days, the child experiences all four operations (likely static). Then, they move on to dynamic operations and practice them with all four operations as a group. This is different than the way I see it most frequently online. They didn't learn static addition, then dynamic addition with an exchange in the tens, then dynamic addition with and exchange in the hundreds, then static addition with exchange in the 10's and 100's...and so on...and then addition with a zero in particular places...and so on...And then finally, after all of that is completed, begin subtraction. Then go through all different types of subtraction. Then when that is completed, begin multiplication and all of it's variations. Then finally, division and all of it's variations. My album introduces all operations quickly and you progress through all of the variations using all four operations together.
My album was not specific about how to handle the stamp game. I don't know if I should go through all of the addition exercises before beginning subtraction or, if like during the collective exercises, I should get him doing the other operations right away and perhaps introduce static subtraction tomorrow.
Theoretically, it makes sense to me to use the same pattern I used with the collective exercises. However, this stage is a little different in that he is learning the vocabulary and symbols for equations. I'm concerned that if I start him on subtraction tomorrow he won't have had enough practice with the vocabulary and symbols for addition and get confused.
Those of you who have been through this many times...what worked best for you?
Second question: After completing the very first problem (4122 + 2615=6737) Kal-El noticed the columnar addition. He said "Look! In the thousands I had 4 and 2!. 4+ 2 equal six and that's what I put in my answer box for the thousands!" Then he proceded to check the columnar addition for the other positions in his number against the answer. (edited to add: he noticed this in a different order than he did the problem. When he did the problem he started with units.) So, on the next problem:
He counted the stamps for the thousands, then the hundreds. Then he said "I don't need to count the stamps for the tens because I know it is going to be 8 because 7 and 1 equals 8." I told him that he was right, and that he will have to do some extra steps when we get to problems that exchange. (Edited to add: This is backwards. He should have started with units...as he did with the golden beads. Me Too was crawling all over me to try to see what Kal-El was doing and I didn't catch him in time. He did do the rest of the problems units first. He said that he "didn't know the stamp game was the same.")
So, is there anything special I need to do? Do I need to make him physically count the stamps whenever his skips that step and does the math without counting the stamps? I don't want to discourage him from doing the mental math when that is, after all, the end goal.
Home of: The Ultimate Montessori Blog List
The Ultimate Montessori Search Box
The Ultimate Montessori Homemade Materials CollaborationWould YOU like to be added to the Ultimate Montessori Blog List? Contact me!