In our planning for the beginning of a new school year our thoughts turn to which introductory lessons we will be presenting in each of the curriculum areas. In the Sensorial and Math areas there are actually beginning lessons for each different strand of instruction. For example, in Sensorial, there are the Cylinder blocks for gradation, Color Box 1 for color work, and the Touch Boards and Tablets for the sense of touch. Within the math curriculum there are also several strands that the children can be working on simultaneously. Once a child has a good understanding of 1-10 they can be introduced to the golden beads, continue work on linear counting with the teen work and hundreds boards and depending upon the child, may even begin work with the short bead chains. As guides, we need to keep in mind that there are many starting points for the children and as such we have to be prepared for the various directions they may head in!
The 45 Layout or Bird’s Eye View, as it is sometimes called, is an important lesson in the sequence of the golden bead work. This presentation allows the child to concretely see the growth of numbers and the progression through the hierarchy from one level to the next. Children are ready for this work when they can identify numbers 1-9 and after they have been introduced to the golden beads and the language of place value: units, tens, hundreds and thousands. While this work has a great deal of repetitiveness built into it, I discovered long ago that the layout was often overwhelming for children and that they tended to avoid the work. The 45 Layout Mat was designed to provide a greater sense of organization for the child, to reinforce the importance of the color coding used in the place value work and to ultimately entice the children back to this important lesson. With its strong built in control of error and beautiful appearance, I am happy to report that this mat has definitely served it’s intent…teachers report that children return to the 45 layout over and over again once they introduce the 45 Layout Mat into their classrooms!