Can a 5 year old learn division?
It turns out that division is really all about sharing – as we see here when a 5 year old Montessori student divides 9,257 by 4. He starts by using The Golden Bead material to physically represent the number 9,257. These are materials he is already used to working with to represent units, tens, hundreds and thousands having previously learnt about addition, subtraction and multiplication.
His learning takes place as he, working on his own, goes through the process of sharing the 9 thousands, 2 hundreds, 5 tens and 7 units equally 4 times. Let us watch as he works:
He has gathered and stacked the 9 thousands, below, and the 2 hundreds.
Next he starts sharing the 9 thousand blocks amongst 4 green skittles.
Having shared 8 blocks equally he has 1 thousand block left over which he ‘exchanges’ for 10 hundreds.
Having 2 original hundreds and 10 new ones he starts sharing them out.
He has shared the tens and is left with 1 ten bead which he cannot share equally yet.
He finds that 9257 shared out 4 times means that each skittle has 2 thousands, 3 hundreds, 1 ten and 4 units which he writes in the correct columns in his book.
He also knows that he has one unit bead left over! Its at the bottom of the picture towards the left.
Thus our 5 year old Montessori student is already learning about division having shared out 9257 beads 4 times. He is also finding out that sharing is not always perfect and he can be left with extra beads called remainders.