Complete Guide to the Stamp Game in Montessori


If you are wondering what the stamp game is and how to play it, then you have come to the right place. Teachers who use Montessorian techniques often use the stamp game to teach children how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. However, many parents do not know how to play the game and can therefore not help their children when they come home from school.

The stamp game is a Montessorian technique used to teach children addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The game entails using stamps or tiles to represent various numerals. The stamps are then manipulated to represent a given equation and then are counted to receive the answer.

While many do not know how to play the Montessorian stamp game, it is actually quite easy and anybody can learn how to do it. Below you will discover everything you could ever want to know about the stamp game, including exactly what it is and how to teach it to your child.

What Is the Stamp Game?

The stamp game is an excellent way to teach your child how to add, subtract, divide, and multiply. The stamp game breaks numerals up into single digits, tens, hundreds, and thousands. Before the stamp game, children have been learning concrete concepts, however, the stamp game is when concepts turn more abstract. However, the way the stamp game is introduced to the child makes it seem familiar and manageable.

The Montessori stamp game allows children to fully understand the concept behind addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

How to Play the Stamp Game

Step One

The first step is to gather up the needed materials. You will need regular paper, grid paper, a pencil, tiles (stamps), and the tray from Introduction to Decimal Quantity. If you have access to it, the grid paper can be replaced by a special felt fabric to separate the tiles, however, grid paper is an easy substitute. Ready made sets can be purchased on Amazon or Etsy.

Step Two

The second step is to attain the problem you will want the child to attempt. Using the paper and pencil, write out the problem you would like the child to try. For example, if the problem is subtraction, you will want to write it out in the following format:

Step Three

The third step is placing the correct tiles in a row. You will want to combine all of the single numerals, tens, hundreds, and thousands. Count every tile individually to attain the correct answer.

How the Stamp Game Is Introduced to the Child

Step One

The first step is making a connection between the previous lesson and the current stamp game. In the previous lessons, you will have used gold beads to help introduce the child to this subject. You will do this by showing the child that the number of beads is equal to the number on the stamp.

Teach the following equalities to the child to make a deeper connection:

  • One bead of one = one stamp
  • One bar of ten = ten stamp
  • One square of one hundred = one hundred stamp
  • One cube of one thousand = one thousand stamp

If you do not have the beads from the previous lessons, you can use the following picture to teach the equalities to your child:

Step Two

The second step is to teach the child what each of the stamps mean.

  • The stamp that is marked with ‘one’ counts as a single numeral and is colored green.
  • The stamp that is marked with ‘ten’ counts as ten digits and is colored blue.
  • The stamp that is marked with ‘one hundred’ counts as one hundred and is colored red.
  • The stamp that is marked with ‘one thousand’ counts as one thousand and is colored green.

As you are introducing the stamps to the child, you will want to have them read them out loud and then place them in the appropriate column. This will help them to better understand what the stamps actually mean.

Once the child understands what the stamps mean, they will be able to move on. If they are confused about the meaning behind the tiles, you will want to work on it with them until they are able to fully comprehend. They must understand what each one of the tiles means if they are going to be able to use them in addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division.

Once the child knows what the tiles mean, you will want to start off with a very basic problem. You will want to ask them to make their own number and read it out loud. For example, if they place a “one hundred” tile in the appropriate column and then two “ones” in the appropriate column, you will want them to ask them to read out the number they made. The correct answer is 102, and you will want to make sure that they understand how they got that answer.

Step Three

The third step is teaching your child to make and read the numbers out loud. To ensure your child understands how to do this, you will want to ask them to make a large number with the stamps. For this example, we will use the number 4,321.

Have the child go from left to right. For instance, you will first have them determine how many thousands there are. The correct answer for this example is “four.”

After the child has gotten the correct amount of thousands, you will want to have the child determine how many hundreds there are. The correct answer for this example is “three.”

Next, the child will say how many tens there are. The correct answer for this example is “two.”

Finally, you will have the child say how many ones there are. The correct answer for this example is “one.”

Step Four

The fourth step is teaching your child how to write multiple numbers under one column. For this example, we will use the numbers 432 and 123. We will start with the number 432 and have the child place the correct amount of stamps in the appropriate columns. There should be four “hundreds,” three “tens,” and two “ones.”

Next, you will want your child to begin with the 123. Underneath the already placed tiles, they should place one “hundred,” two “tens,” and three “ones.” Teach your child to place the new numbers below the already placed tiles to avoid confusion and messes. You will want everything to stay as organized as possible, and this is the way to ensure that.

Step Five

The fifth step is to begin teaching your child addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Ensure your child has mastered the previous steps before moving on. If they have not yet mastered any of the previous skills, then you will want to keep working with them until they do. Your child will not be able to keep up on the next steps if they do not yet fully comprehend the basic skills revolving around the stamp game.

How to Use the Montessori Stamp Game for Addition

Step One

The first step you will want to do is write out the problem you want to give your child. You will want to write it out in the following format so the child can stay neat and organized:

Step Two

The second step is placing the correct stamps under the appropriate columns. For this example, we will be adding 84 to 43. For the number 84, you will want to place eight “ten” stamps under the tens column. Next, you will want to place four “ones” under the ones column.

Next, you will want to place the stamps for the number 43. For this number, you will want to put the tiles underneath the 84. You will want to place four “tens” under the tens column, After, you will want to place three “ones” under the ones column.

Step Three

The third step is adding up the stamps. Start with the ones column, where you should add seven. Write this underneath the written-out problem. Next, you will want to add up the tens column, where you should get twelve. Write out twelve to the right of the seven. Putting these numbers together, you should get 127.

How to Use the Montessori Stamp Game for Subtraction

Step One

The first step you will want to do is write out the problem you want to give your child. You will want to write it out in the same format as the previous picture, except with a subtraction sign. When writing it out in this format, it remains consistent and organized for the child so no confusion occurs.

Step Two

The second step is placing the correct stamps under the appropriate columns. For this example, we will be subtracting 43 from 84. For the number 84, you will want to place eight “ten” stamps under the tens column. Next, you will want to place four “ones” under the ones column.

This is when subtracting during the stamp game differs from adding. You will not want to place stamps for the number 43, instead, you will want to continue reading step three so you know what to do.

Step Three

The third step is subtracting 43. Under the ones column, you will want to take away three stamps so you are only left with one stamp under the ones column. Write the number one under the ones column on the written-out problem.

Next, you will take away four stamps from the tens column so you are only left with four stamps under the tens column. Write the number four under the tens column on the written-out problem. You will see that you then have forty-one written out, which is the correct answer for this problem.

How to Use the Montessori Stamp Game for Multiplication

Step One

The first step you will want to do is write out the problem you want to give your child. You will want to write it out in the following format so everything remains neat:

Step Two

The second step is placing the correct stamps under the appropriate columns. For this example, we will be multiplying 123 by three. For the number 123, you will want to place one “hundred” stamp under the hundreds column. Next, you will want to place two “tens” under the tens column. Next, you will want to put three “ones” stamps under the ones column.

After, you will want to repeat this process. Because you are multiplying 123 by three, you will want to place the appropriate stamps three times, placing each group underneath one another. Once all of the stamps have been placed, you can group the corresponding tiles so you make one solid bar.

Step Three

The third step is adding the columns together. You will first want to add up the ones column, which will get you nine. Next, add up the tens column, which will get you six. After, add up the hundreds column to get three. By combining these numbers, you will get 369, which is the final answer.

How to Use the Montessori Stamp Game for Division

Using the Montessori stamp game for division is usually the hardest for children to understand. It is more abstract than addition, subtraction, and multiplication which is why many have a hard time with it. Dividing using the stamp game requires more patience and extra steps, so it takes a longer amount of time to get used to.

If you or your child is struggling with using the stamp game to divide, then watch the video below. The video will provide a clear explanation of how to divide using the stamp game.

The channel the previous video is derived from provides videos explaining how to use Montessori techniques and materials for parents and teachers. If you are having a difficult time teaching a child how to do any Montessori lesson, head to this channel and they will most likely have a video explaining how to do it.


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Stacy Jones

When I became a foster mother, I started researching different parenting and education ideas. Learning about the Montessori Method has been intriguing and fascinating, and I have enjoyed watching the little ones in my life learn and grow from incorporating Montessori elements into our family's lifestyle. Montessori For Today was started to provide answers to my own questions, which will hopefully become a great resource for others to learn about the Montessori Method, Montessori Schools, and how you can incorporate elements of Montessori into your own home and lifestyle.

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