Now, let me briefly explain to you what is the EYFS:
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development, and care of children from birth to 5 years old. All schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries, and school reception classes.
The Early Year Foundation stage states that we should introduce the children to numeracy among other areas of learning.
Recognising numerals and associating quantities to the symbols start to occur anytime between 30 to 50 months. The guide “Development matters” is a resource that supports the work of Early Years practitioners in England. This is a document that shows how the four themes of the EYFS work together for children. Development Matters can help practitioners to support children’s learning and development through planning, observation, and assessment.
The guide also includes various ideas for practitioners to support the child’s learning. For example, it is advised to provide number labels and to create opportunities to count.
What about Montessori?
The Montessori curriculum introduces numbers and quantities in a hands-on way. To introduce numerals and quantities, Montessori teachers use various specific materials.
We first use the red rods, 10 rods of increasing length from 10 centimeters to 1 meter, that the child must order from the shortest to the longest.
When the child is familiar with that material, we introduce the number rods.
These rods are like the red ones, but they are painted in red and blue section. The smaller rod is red and represents “one”, the second red is 20 centimeters and represent “two”, the third rod has three section and is the number 3 and so on until the longest rod that represents 10.
The third activity is the association of written numerals, that the child has learned to recognize by touch, with the blue and red rods. So, the child associates each rod with a numeral.
We also use loose quantities that are associated with the written symbol. That activity is called cards and counters. Later, you will introduce the short bead stairs and the Seguin boards to introduce the children to numerals and quantities over 10.
So how does it compare to the Sumblox?
I state here the qualities and aims of the Montessori materials and how the Sumblox are similar or not
- All the Montessori material are made of natural material and explore one concept at a time.
I really like that the Sumblox are made of wood and are aesthetic.
There are no colour or illustrations that could distract the child from the main aim of the material.
In that sense, Montessori and the Sumblox are very similar.
- The Montessori material allows the child to progress through the mathematical concepts.
First, the child starts to recognize fixed quantities: the number 10 rod is longer than the number one rod. Later, he will associate numeral with fixed quantities. And when he is ready, he will associate loose quantities, such as coins with the numerals. This is the most complicated aspect for a young child.
In my opinion, the Sumblox do all of this in one go.
The blocs are shaped like a numeral but differ in sizes. So, at the same time, the child is encouraged to recognize the numeral and to understand that 1 is smaller than 10.
It is possible to associate loose quantities for each number bloc.
In this case, we associate the number 1 bloc to each numeral, adding more bloc for each number.
It was pretty clear for my children that we needed a certain amount of blocs to equal the corresponding number.
On its own, the Sumblox allow the children to build and to understand that the numbers are different in size.
But I would make sure the children have opportunities to count various loose quantities too in other ways.
I would also ensure that they have opportunities to recognize other written numerals. I think using another material to recognize the numerals first would be beneficial. Then associate the written numerals of your choice with the blocs.
As the Sumblox needed to be shaped in a certain way to be used as blocs, they may appear odd to some purists.
What my children have enjoyed the most was to do skip counting, seeing the numerals lining up in order was very appealing for them.
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They were also able to make various operations by themselves. My 10 years old who hates maths was very attracted to the Sumblox and enjoyed them the most.
It is also an open-ended resource that can be used in various ways and combined with other toys and materials.
My children have also enjoyed building with the blocs with no aims in mind.
I can see that the Sumblox set would be a long lasting resource if your children use them from aged 3 to 12 years old.
It would be great in addition or combination with other materials either in the classroom, for homeschooling families or in the home.
I tried a set kindly shared by Yes bebe which are the official distributor of Sumblox in the UK.