I have to be honest and say that Dora has seriously started to rebel against using Montessori materials. Plus, she seems to be learning things in other ways much better, such as through imaginative play and listening to literature and music (for instance, I was quite surprised last week to learn that she could do basic addition, which we haven’t remotely begun to address in our “homeschooling”). Ironically, the child who really seems to thrive with the Montessori method is Gohan. Unfortunately, Gohan is in 8th grade and Montessori did not develop a curriculum for high school. At times, however, Montessori seems to the only way for him to learn a concept. Previously, I posted that I used a Montessori-inspired approach to teach Gohan how to subtract negative integers. That was in May and he hasn’t had any trouble with working with negative integers since! I only taught him the concept using the manipulatives once and it just clicked.
Last month, he began struggling with fraction word problems. He was doing review work of concepts that he mastered two years ago, or so I thought. Clearly he didn’t really understand the concepts, however, as he was unable to do the word problems. So, I finally broke down and bought some cut-out labeled fraction circles. I wanted the cut-out fraction circles, as opposed to the metal fraction circles, because a) they take up less space, and b) the metal fraction circles only go up to tenths, while the cut-out fraction circles go up to twentieths, and c) this method doesn’t work as well with knobbed pieces. Were I to do this again, I’d buy .pdf files and just print out the pieces. I taught Gohan how to do just one problem using the fraction circles and he hasn’t had any trouble with fractions since!
The problem was a pretty straight forward one. It was “What is 2/3 of 3/14?” So we laid out three 1/14 pieces. Just looking at the pieces made the answer pretty obvious, but we worked out the whole problem just to be sure. We separated 2 of the 3 pieces (or 2/3), which was 2/14. Of course, Gohan needed to reduce the problem and that he can do easily in his head, but we completed the final step using the fraction pieces, because I wanted him to really see how the paper worked answers and manipulative worked answers are the 100% the same. The 1/7 piece fit over the two 1/14 pieces perfectly. So we had our answer of 1/7! I really, really, wish I had understood how Montessori worked when Gohan was younger. He would have benefitted so much from using manipulatives to learn everything.
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