Work of the Week – Pythagoras Board


Last week we introduced the Golden Beads work.  This week we are going to take a look at the Pythagoras Board!


Pythagoras Board

The Pythagoras Board is basically the multiplication times table in visual form.  It has the numbers 1-10 going vertical and horizontal on the board. The are 100 number tiles and the child chooses a wooden tile, thinks of a multiplication equation that produces this product, then places the chip in the correct position on the ruled board.   There is also a set of cards with multiplication equations for the child to answer and a control chart is included to enable the child to check their own work.


Growing up many of us remember two things about math: 1) that we didn’t like it, and 2) how boring it was to memorize the multiplication tables.  How much would we have benefited from the hands-on nature of the Montessori materials?  Plus, being able to focus on the process rather than simply finding the correct answer.  By using the Montessori math materials on a everyday basis, children often memorize their math facts without actually setting out to do so.


Pythagoras Board Card

Many times people inquire about the “path to abstraction” and whether or not children are impeded by doing so many concrete math materials first. Every observation demonstrates the opposite:

Children are better able to understand abstract mathematical concepts because they have first handled the actual materials.


Pythagoras Board

When does the path to abstraction start? Typically it starts in stages during the 6-9 age period or Lower Elementary.  A child who still needs the materials to do multiplication may already have begun to internalize the concepts of addition and subtraction and soon will not need the materials for those processes anymore.  In other words, there is not a specific moment when a child moves from concrete to abstract.  It is a gradual process built into the materials themselves.


This is what makes Montessori math so different.

The hands-on, concrete nature of the materials; beautiful in their simplicity.  They take the complicated math concepts and break them into easy-to-understand chunks of information.  It is clear when you are observing one of our Montessori classrooms that the children love to be at school and love to learn. What is even more amazing is that children are learning without fear of failure.  Come set up a tour and learn more about Montessori Co-op School.