The checkerboard is used for long multiplication in the lower elementary classroom. The children are already familiar with the glass beads and their values as we saw in the Bead Cabinet. Materials that represent a concept are carried through the Montessori experience.
Now the children have the exciting opportunity to apply this knowledge and expand into HUGE numbers using the checkerboard. It is enticing work for a young elementary student to see huge solutions from the long multiplication problems they create. Before their eyes, the children see the result of multiplying numbers and have the practice of documenting the problem on graph paper. This provides the children with the concrete experience as well as practice with the more abstract process of writing math problems and solutions. The checkerboard activity is an example of how math can be like a game in Montessori. It is fun!
The checkerboard is one method of demonstrating long multiplication for children. In the Montessori elementary classroom, there are multiple materials to present long multiplication and other math concepts. This gives choice as well as variety. And the materials can often be shared with a friend making it a social experience in which students support each other in learning.
Try It Yourself!
Here is a short video demonstrating how the checkerboard is used, and a link to a virtual version of the checkerboard for you to try out yourself. Give it a try! It is fun!