Pythagoras Board: An Engaging Way to Learn Multiplication

We use Life of Fred for math.  The lessons are short and the storyline is engaging for the kids.  I love Life of Fred for the way math is presented in real life ways.  We follow Fred’s humorous life and see how he uses math in very practical applications in the world.  It’s great! But we needed to slow down a bit and focus on multiplication facts.  My goal was not to instill memorization but to present the multiplication table in a visual way so we could see the patterns of multiplication and skip counting.

I pulled out the Montessori Pythagoras Board and asked my son if I could show it to him because it directly relates to our Life of Fred chapters we had been reading.  The Pythagoras Board 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.   After completing the board he was able to step back and really analyze the multiplication table.

He was excited when he visually identified:

1.  The commutative property

2.  Skip counting patterns for each number

3.  9 times table– after 9×5=45 the numbers are reversed : 9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81

This visual and tactile way of working with multiplication is better for the brain then just simple memorization and writing facts on paper.  I love watching my son work on the board and choose to do it again.  My son enjoyed analyzing the patterns on the board and he discovered them on his own rather than listening to me explain to him.  Hands on, visual work like the Pythagoras Board can ignite a passion for numbers and math!

—Bonus Discovery Game—

We came back to the board and we invented a game.  Take a tile out of the box and find a multiplication fact that corresponds to that number.  Place the number on the right spot on the board.  We having been enjoying this activity!

About Jennifer Walker, MS

I currently blog about mindfulness, meaningful life-learning, Montessori and Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
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