Here are my current favorite math materials for my 4 (in 7 days) year old.
1. Cuisenaire Rods
These are the most versatile math manipulative I have ever encountered. They quickly replaced the number rods and the Montessori 1-10 beads for counting lessons and J-jo quickly learned what number is represented by each color. Bear uses these for division and more complex multiplication. They are similar enough to the Montessori bead materials to appease to my Montessori want-to-be side, yet are more versatile as they can be used to teach more math concepts. They are also fun for building. We often use them in conjunction with my favorite math material number 2.
This is my favorite website to visit, replete with videos on numerous math topics ranging from preK to grade 4-ish in which Rosie and her children do lessons using the cuisenaire rods. You absolutely must visit this website. J-jo and I use many of her games and lesson ideas.
3. Hundred Board
It’s great to practice counting to one hundred and to learn to recognize patterns in numbers. We also use a poster version from the Dollar Tree for quick counting, but what I like about the hundred board is that I can set up hundred board puzzles (as shown in photo) for the kids to solve. The one in the photo is from Kid Advance.
4. Montessori Golden Bead Material
This material is great for J-jo to learn the base ten system visually. There’s some great Montessori lessons using the golden beads. Some can be found here. I like the bead layout, which is a very large, impressive work for a young child. J-jo and I like to play the “bank game,” in which I give him a number card and he goes to the bank to get the corresponding golden bead material. In this way he learns about building numbers and that the value of the digits can change (as you can see in the photo with 2453).
I don’t have a photo of this in use, but I like the Rightstart method of teaching that numbers from 6 to 10 can be seen as 5+a number. 5 and 2 are 7, 5 and 3 are 8 and so on. The abacus is a great tool for this and the Rightstart abacus is special because each five beads is one color so the child can easily see the 5 and 2, for example.