Montessori friendly books that can nourish your toddlers love for math

Montessori friendly books (for 0-6 years old) are realistic, they can contain fiction, but it has to be based on reality. The reasoning behind it was based on Maria’s observation of children and their absorption of everything from environment and development of their own imagination, which should not be enforced by grown-ups. More about Montessori viewpoint on fantasy you can read in the following blog posts: by threeminutemontessori, montessori nortwwest, and readaboutreading.

In the following photo are examples of our favorite books for toddlers that cover the math topics of size and counting.


Size – a great book for toddlers for discussing about concepts of size: big and small and comparisons (big, bigger, the biggest). It is putting things in perspective, e.g. there is an example of a plane when we see it in the sky it looks small but when we stand next to it we see how it is actually really big. There are much more of this every day examples and comparisons. Great book to accompany your every day trips to nature and comparing big and small trees, stones etc.

Anno’s counting book – Natalia’s favorite as she is now in a sensitive period for counting. This book consists of only pictures which in a subtle manner follow changes in seasons on the northern hemisphere over the 12 months (in this book numbers 0-12 are introduced).  The pictures add one item in each category for each new number, building on the previous scene. Readers can find and count children, adults, pine trees, cherry trees, buildings, etc. I believe this books evokes fascination in both adults and kids on aesthetic and intellectual levels.

Forest Bright, Forest Night – another great book for toddlers, where they can enjoy in first half of the book counting animals that are active during the day, and in the second half of the book counting and observing various nocturnal animals. It is a very poetical book and contains realistic images of all depicted animals. Also for kids it is fun to see that some animals are sleeping in first half of the book whereas they are being active in the second half of the book (during night). Apart from counting, this book is a great one for discussion of day and night, sun and moon and various animals from the woods.

One Gorilla: A counting book – if your kid is into animals, especially monkeys this one is brilliant counting book, it covers various primates which have very vivid facial expressions. For older kids it is a great introduction to evolution.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle’s classic, and I do not know a kid who does not like this book. It is perfect for toddler’s initial counting till five, learning about days in the week and about amazing process of metamorphosis.

There are numerous books on this topic, and here is one thought-provoking article on the topic

Enjoy and let me know what are your favorite math books for toddlers;)


Montessori approach towards teaching math

Maria Montessori had a big passion for mathematics and she recognized the importance of teaching mathematical concepts in the early childhood (2,5 (3)-6 years especially). She has developed numerous valuable materials for teaching mathematics. Unlike the commonly used approach in most kindergartens where children are taught to count by pure memorization and not understanding the value – in Montessori environment from the early age hands on experience is stressed out, and kids can feel the value of numbers.

Before jumping into mathematics materials there are numerous pre-math skills that should be mastered first, even before counting. One of the first pre-math skills that happens even without specifically preparing the environment for it, is sorting – it can be sorting by colour, sorting by size, by shape or by texture. I have noticed Miro performing his first “sorting” when he was 9 months old, when in his kitchen  treasure basket he had orange and purple muffin cups and just out of sudden he started placing purple ones into purple and orange into orange. Most probably he liked the appearance of it, but it looked like his first sorting “activity”.

Especially at this early age, you do not need to prepare any special activities, just engage your young toddlers in practical life and they ll gain their pre-math skills in no time;) Engage your young toddlers in emptying the dish-washer – put the drawer with all eating utensils and let your kids do the sorting activity you do on daily basis and they ll be extremely proud of helping you at the same time. Dishwasher will get empty so much faster with the help of your kids. They ll put plates to the drawer for plates – and the plates need to be sorted by shape and size (at least we have special place for each of them at our home;)) Another sorting activity hit in our home is – matching socks after they are washed and dried Natalia is a master in it already for a long time, and ofcourse I am the guilty one when someones sock is missing;)) Miro (14 months)  just started to join her in this fun sorting activity, he can match those that are really colourful and very distinct – but matching various daddy’s black socks still presents a challenge for him (for me sometimes as well:P).


Another great place to do various sorting activities is outside🙂 I believe children learn the most by spending most of their time outside, that is why I try to make sure no matter what is the weather we spend at least 3 hours outside. Outside we can observe the birds, the trees, sticks, compare their size, discuss their colours and shapes. And sticks, seeds and rocks are the best open-ended toys out there and they are free😉 Natalia started counting in the woods, when trying to make a tower. I asked her how many pine-cones shall I help her to find to finish the tower, she asked 4, and when I brought 4 she counted to check on me;)

Counting appeared naturally at our home – when sharing oranges, i was always counting how many pieces goes to daddy, Miro, Natalia, me, whenever we cooked I counted out loud number of spoons of flour, sugar etc. At the moment she is in sensitive counting period – she counts number of steps she walks onto, counts fruits that Miro ate, etc. But before she started counting, she spend a lot of time doing various matching and sorting activities in woods and in kitchen. She started counting till 3 (in 3 languages) with 24 months, and now with 34 months she counts till 10 with confidence. Since she started getting confident in counting I decided its high time in making some DIY Montessori materials.

The first one I made are number rods, I painted them yellow and purple cause I had sufficient enough of those two colours, and we were out of red and blue;) I would like to add few citates of Maria Montessori (The Discovery of the Child) about this amazing material:

“The advantage of this material is that it represents united together, although distinct and countable, the units comprising each of the represented numbers. The rod of 5, for example, is  all one piece representing the number 5, but the five units are distinguishable by the different colour on it. This overcomes a very great difficulty, that of adding one unit after another in a sum total.”

“The rods correspond to numbers and gradually increase in length unit by unit. They therefore provide not only an absolute but also a relative concept of numbers. Their proportions have already been studied in the sense exercises. Here they are judged mathematically, and this provides an initiation to arithmetic. These numbers which may be handled and compared lend themselves immediately to various combinations and contrasts. By placing the rod of one unit next to the rod of two units, there is produced, for example, a length equal to that of three units.”

Today I have presented the material for the first time to Natalia and she has grasped the concept immediately, she has arranged it initially by size and when I asked her if the shortest one corresponds to one, what does she think the next one in size corresponds to she immediately answered two. When I asked her to randomly give me a rod that would correspond to five she gave me the right one. I am so happy she enjoys this material!! I really enjoyed a lot making it:D Guess it is not so difficult for her since we have been reading lately a lot of counting books such as One Gorilla A counting book and Anno’s Counting book, as well a lot of counting in kitchen on daily basis;)


I really love math and I am so happy my little girl enjoys her beginning math journey as well :)))