Once a child has understood the concept of numbers from at least 1-10 as well as the principles of addition, he/she will be able to move on to learning subtraction. As with all Montessori math lessons, the aim is to turn abstract concepts into something concrete (with representative materials) thus enabling easier understanding.

Subtraction with montessori

Have look at the following tutorial by My Montessori Works to see how an initial lesson on subtraction might look:

The materials used in this particular lesson are: two small, shallow, matching bowls and another bowl that doesn’t match; cards with numbers (that will form the equation or sum that you will be working with) and the symbols required for a subtraction sum (subtract and equals); a representative number of beads (or the like) for the sum in question.

The materials are set up quite specifically: the unique bowl is used to isolate what is being taken away from the total sum, and the matching bowls are used to represent the total sum (at the beginning of the equation) and the answer (coming after the equal symbol).

The lesson starts by explaining the symbols to the child – the subtraction sign as well as the equal sign (which the child will already be familiar with after working with addition sums). The total number of beads is placed in the bowl at the beginning of the sum and beads are moved around according to the equation in question. The point is that children are able to learn and respond through the visualisation of the process of a subtraction sum.

It’s important to encourage the child to reiterate every part of the equation – repeating each step over and over, in order; then when a mistake is made the child will be able to go back and correct the process.

An extension on this lesson, if the child is looking for something more to do, is to allow him/her to copy down the sums on a piece of paper. It’s not required or necessary but might be enjoyed by a child who is excited about the process.

This is an initial lesson on the road to reading. If you’d like further information about this tutorial, feel free to contact us at info@saintandrewsmontessori.com. We’re happy to answer any questions.

Photo by Montessori From The Heart