Montessori in a Minute: Infinity Street and Mathematics
To Dr. Maria Montessori, children have a "mathematical mind" that's ready to explore the world around them through numbers. Montessori mathematics doesn't wait until children deeply understand enumeration like some other educational philosophies might. Instead, specially designed tools offer concrete components to "absorb" typically abstract mathematics concepts. Infinity Street is a fun, tactile work that reinforces place value and helps each child truly understand how big numbers (billions and beyond) are read.
Infinity Street is an impressionistic layout giving children a deeper understanding of the abstract concept of big numbers in a concrete way. Beside using tactile materials, Montessori also uses storytelling to immerse students in concepts from history, science, language, and math. When teaching about place value, numbers past one billion, and infinity, teachers invite Lower Elementary students to a numerical neighborhood on "Infinity Street."
For example, take the number: 611,659,232,875,768,888,111,066. How do you teach a 7-year-old about how to read this number, what it means, and how to write it out? Infinity Street helps students understand how to formulate the number and say it without skipping a beat.
How to Get to Infinity Street
In Montessori, lessons are scaffolded, building off of previous lessons to gain greater understanding. Younger students as young as preschool are introduced to place values and the Bead Cabinet. Unit beads are always green, the tens are always blue, and the hundreds are always red. Infinity Street builds off of the Bead Cabinet and Stamp Game, which comes before it in the Montessori Math curriculum.
The real fun begins once students understand the structure of Infinity Street. The lesson begins with a set of eight yellow wooden house-shaped cards that are sized smaller to larger with three spaces reserved for the family members inside, represented by tens, hundreds, and thousands using beads from the Bead Cabinet. Children place numeric beads from the Bead Cabinet on the red, green, and blue boxes.
Each house has its own “comma” mailbox (separating the houses by commas, much like when the number is written out) to sit outside with its place hierarchy (simple, hundred, thousand, million, billion, trillion, quadrillion, quintillion, sextillion).
The Montessori in a Minute Series
Montessori schools center around five key areas of learning in the Montessori environment: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics, and Culture. This Montessori In A Minute series regularly explores the unique benefits of Montessori philosophy, its fundamental materials, and areas of the classroom. For all parents at Hudson Montessori School (Jersey City, New Jersey), the school hosts several Parent Education Nights a year to learn about the Montessori method and how the students learn curriculum components using a Montessori framework.
To learn more about Hudson Montessori School's interdisciplinary, theme-based learning approach to education, the Montessori philosophy and methodology, or how the school fosters the love of learning for children aged 2 to eighth grade, please contact us.