Infinity Street

Introducing large numbers in Montessori is as easy as telling a story--which is exactly how we do it. Welcome to Infinity Street.


"There's a place, here on Earth, that has a street--just like your street. It has houses on it, people in those houses, and even mailboxes out front. Unlike yours, though, this street has no beginning and no end. It goes on forever and ever. It's called Infinity Street.


Let's take a look at the special houses on this street. How many people live in your house? Four? Five? Six. When I look at the houses on my street, I'm sure some of them have 5 people, some have 11, and some maybe have even more. But on Infinity Street, each house only has 3 members and those members all have the same names: there's a unit, a ten, and a hundred.


On our streets, the people inside the houses are all different shades of tan--some are pale and some are dark; but on Infinity Street, the units are always green, the tens are always blue, and the hundreds are always red.


The houses on my street are different sizes. Some are small, some are medium-sized, and some are large. On Infinity Street, the houses are different sizes, too; however, the houses begin small and get a little bit larger as you go west on the street. The houses get successively smaller as you go east.


The houses on your street have mailboxes out front, right? Well, so do the houses on Infinity Street. On your mailbox is your family's name, maybe, or possibly their street number. On the mailboxes in front of the houses on Infinity Street is their family name, too. The very first family is called "simple." This family is a bit shy, though, and so we never say their name. The second family is called "thousand," the third is "million" and so on."


As the students build their houses (using fun foam houses and fun foam people), the story continues:


"Each member of the house is allowed only one number on it. Not every member has to have a number, though. Sometimes a member of the family will not have a number placed on it and in that case, we hold that member's spot with a 0. When reading the number made on Infinity Street, we start with the largest house with numbers on the family members. The family name must be read for every house that has a number in it, but only after reading the members of the family, first.


Remember--the simple family is shy, so don't read their name, even though you must read the numbers of their family members.


So, when reading the number included in this post, the student would begin with the largest house and read six hundred twenty-five. After reading every member of that family, the student would then get to read the family's name: sextillion--six hundred twenty-five sextillion, before going on to read the rest of the number created.


This is an easy and fun exercise to reinforce place value and to help your child truly enjoy and understand how numbers are read.

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