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Montessori in a Minute: Test Tube Division

Montessori education is known for teaching fundamental skills with a child-centric approach emphasizing hands-on learning and student-driven instruction. Test tube division is a unique approach to fostering a deep understanding of division by using hand-held tools that help a child touch, visualize, and solve division problems on their own.

In Montessori classrooms, manipulatives or hand-held tools illustrate typically abstract concepts like division in a concrete format. These tactile representations offer students long-term understanding that can translate to more complex division and beyond.

How to Use the Test Tube Division Tool

Teachers introduce Test Tube Division only after students understand addition, subtraction, and multiplication—usually at the elementary level. These skills lay the foundation for students to grasp the concept of division as the inverse of multiplication. Through practice, students will become proficient in basic division. Then they progress to more complex problems and refine their skills to divide larger numbers.

  1. Test tubes are labeled with numbers (quotients) and a box of colored beads representing the dividend. Students select a tube with a quotient and place it on a table.

  2. Students count the beads in the box and then distribute them into the test tubes following the quotient. For example, if there are 20 beads and the quotient is 5, the child places four beads in each tube, dividing the total equally.

  3. After distributing the beads, the child must verify that each tube contains an equal, correct number of beads. This hands-on practice shows the concept of division as dividing a whole into equal parts.

The Montessori in a Minute Series

The 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 Parent Education Nights every year to teach parents about the Montessori method and how the students learn curriculum components using a Montessori framework.

Please contact us 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.

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