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The Montessori Stamp Game: Explanation and Presentation

In this article, you will learn what the Montessori Stamp Game is and how to introduce it to your child. You will also learn how to present the Stamp Game for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division equations.

By the end of the article, you should feel comfortable presenting this Montessori math material in a classroom setting or in your home, if you are homeschooling in a Montessori fashion.

image of the Montessori Stamp Game Math materials.

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What is the Montessori Stamp Game?

Learning the Montessori way in the early years has shown many benefits. The hands-on, multi-sensory aspect of Montessori is unmatched by other education methods.

This aspect of Montessori shines especially bright in the area of Mathematics. Montessori math is taught in such a way that young children gain a deep understanding of quantities – and the Stamp Game is a great example of how Montessori math transitions from concrete to abstract, little by little.

The Stamp Game in Montessori is an activity of color-coded tiles and skittles that are designed to represent quantities and teach children mathematic operations in a more abstract fashion than they are used to up to the point of its introduction.

This material is typically introduced when children are about 4.5-5 years old and have worked with concrete math materials, such as the Golden Bead Material, number rods, and Sandpaper Numbers.

Unlike the previous math materials the child has worked with prior to the Stamp Game, the control of error with this activity is the child’s own understanding.

This is why it is important to assess the child’s readiness prior to introducing the 4 operations with this material.

Stamp Game Materials

The materials used in the Stamp Game are as follows:

How to introduce the Montessori Stamp Game

Prior to introducing adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing, you first need to introduce the material to the child.

This not only helps them learn to work with abstract numbers and familiarize themselves with the new activity but it will verify for the teacher or caregiver that the child is, in fact, ready to work with this new material.

Note: A 3-period lesson should accompany this activity.

Here is how to introduce the Stamp Game.

  • Have the child help you bring the material from the shelf to a large mat on the floor.
  • Ask the child to place the Golden Bead Material on the mat and recite the name of each category as they do this.
  • Place the “1” stamp below the quantity it represents and say, “This is one”.
  • Explain to the child that the unit bead and the number “1” stamp represent the same amount.
  • Ask the child if they would like to examine the stamp and tell you what they notice about it. (size, shape, number, color, ect.)
  • Have the child place the stamp back below the unit bead and proceed the the next category of stamps and repeat the process.

Extensions of this activity include:

  • Composing quantities
  • Playing the Change Game (similar to the Golden Bead activity they should be familiar with)

Montessori Stamp Game Presentations

The Stamp Game presentations are introduced in the following order:

  • addition
  • substraction
  • multiplication
  • division

These should be presented in this order and on different days. After each presentation, the child should be asked to place the items back in their proper places on the tray and return the tray to the shelf.

After they complete each presentation, they are free to work with the material for that operation and the operations they have previously worked with.

Dynamic equations, as well as the introduction of “0”, can be introduced for each math operation after the initial presentation is introduced if the child is interested and ready.

Addition

  • Invite the child to bring the materials with you to a work mat on the floor.
  • Tell the child the equation slips are for transposing the addends onto the equation grid before the equation is solved with the Stamp Game.Then the sum will be recorded.
  • Have the child write the addends from the equation slip on the equation grid.
  • With the stamps, invite the child to form the first addend. In a column, place the stamps below the proper section of the wooden box, starting with the units and continuing with each subsequent category.
  • Have the child repeat the previous step for the second addend, leaving an inch or so between addends.
  • Ask the child to find the sum of the unit stamps by counting aloud, then have them record this on the equation grid.
  • Ask the child to repeat the previous step with the tens stamps. If there are 10 tens stamps, explain to them about exchaging them for a single one-hunderds stamp, then have them do this and have them place the one-hunderds stamp in the proper column and continue counting the tens stamps. (If there are less than 10 tens stamps, an exchange is not possible, obviously.)
  • Have the child record the amount of quantity in the equation grid.
  • Repeat these steps for the remaining categories.
  • Invite the child to read the equation out loud and check their work through inverse operation.

Substraction

  • Invite the child to bring the materials with you to a work mat on the floor.
  • Tell the child the equation slips are for transposing the minuend and subtrahend onto the equation grid before the equation is solved with the Stamp Game. Then the difference will be recorded.
  • Have the child write the miuend and subtrahend from the equation slip on the equation grid.
  • With the stamps, invite the child to form the minuend. In a column, place the stamps below the proper section of the wooden box, starting with the units and continuing with each subsequent category.
  • Reading out loud the units value of the subtrahend on the equation grid and have the child move that number of units stamps below the minuend.
  • Move the subtracted number of unit stamps off the the side and invite the child to count the remaining stamps.
  • Have the child record the amount of difference in the equation grid.
  • Repeat these steps for the remaining categories.
  • Invite the child to read the equation out loud and check their work through inverse operation

Multiplication

  • Invite the child to bring the materials with you to a work mat on the floor.
  • Tell the child the equation slips are for transposing the multiplicand and multiplier onto the equation grid before the equation is solved with the Stamp Game. Then the product will be recorded.
  • Have the child write the multiplicand and multiplier from the equation slip on the equation grid.
  • With the stamps, invite the child to form the multiplicand. In a column, place the stamps toward top of the work rug.
  • Pointing to the multiplier, ask the child how many time the multiplicand should be laid out.
  • Explain how each skittle represents the multiplier. (If the equation is 234 x 2, 2 skittles will be used, ect.)
  • Put the first skittle on the left side of the stamps that have been arranged.
  • Invite the child to place the remaining skittles below the first, with considerable space between them.
  • Ask the child to place the proper amount of multiplicand stamps (arranged in categories) next to each skittle.
  • Have the child find the product of the equation by returning the skittles to the box and pushing all the stamps together in categories, starting with the units.
  • Ask the child to record the sum of each category on the equation grid.
  • Repeat these steps for the remaining categories.
  • Invite the child to read the equation out loud and check their work through inverse operation

Division

Division using the Stamp Game is a bit difficult to explain with words, however, I have included a video that I believe has a simple-to-understand explanation.

If you are presenting this in your home, it is important to practice quite a bit before the presentation, as this is not how many of us learned division in school and the presentation can be confusing and offputting to children when we do not appear confident in our own understanding.

The extensions of this presentation include dynamic equations with and without a remainder and equations with a “zero” in the dividend.

  • Invite the child to bring the materials with you to a work mat on the floor.
  • Tell the child the equation slips are for transposing the dividend and divisor onto the equation grid before the equation is solved with the Stamp Game. Then the quotient will be recorded.
  • Have the child write the dividend and divisor from the equation slip on the equation grid.
  • With the stamps, invite the child to form the dividend. In a column, place the stamps toward top of the work rug.
  • Pointing to the divisor, ask the child how many time will divide or “share”.
  • Explain how each skittle represents the divisor. (If the equation is 759/ 3, 3 skittles will be used, ect.)
  • Invite the child to place the skittles in a row to the right of the dividend stamps, leaving considerable space between each one.
  • Explainging and demonstrating to start with the highest category, place the stamps one-by-one by each skittle.
  • As you distribute each category of stamps, explain to the child how the stamps have been distributed to the skittle equally and each skittle has the same amount.
  • “Share” each category of stamps, highest to lowest, along your row of skittles, left to right, breaking down each category into smaller numbers as needed, until there are no more stamps.
  • Have the child find the quotient of the equation by tallying the total below one skittle.
  • Ask the child to record the quotient on the equation grid.
  • Invite the child to read the equation out loud and check their work through inverse operation

The Montessori Stamp Game is an engaging, hands-on way for children to learn the 4 operations. It’s also great for reinforcing the concept of 1:1 correspondence and practice with writing.

Does your child enjoy the Stamp Game?

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