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Oral Before Written

When we all learned to speak our native tongue, we learned to speak it orally before we picked up a pencil to express ourselves.  In the same fashion, oral mathematical discussions precede written work in Gattegno's Textbook 1.  

Oral Work​

During literal work, the child first expresses themselves in their own words what they see, and when it is revealed that they have an understanding of what they see, the child will then be taught how to orally narrate themselves using mathematical expressions. 

Example of Oral Discussion


Teacher:  What do you see?

Student:  I see an orange is as long as a dark green and a  purple together.

Teacher (recognizes understanding):  We would say that orange equals a dark green plus a purple.   Can you repeat that?

Student: An orange equals a dark green plus a purple. 

Written Work

Written work can be provided by the teacher during oral discussion, and as soon as the child is able to write, they should write their work down.   Writing though shouldn't hinder the development of expanding oral discussions. 

Written work is provided in horizontal notation.  In literal work, it is just letters. r + g = y  In number work, it is numbers.  2 + 3 =5.    

The reason for such notation is it gives children freedom later to add as they see fit no matter how cumbersome their method.   For example,  23 + 45 + 17 =, a child may decide to add the tens first, and then the ones.  

Manipulation of the rods helps them to see different ways of adding giving them a strong number sense helping them to understand formal algorithms later. 

Free Cuisenaire Rod printables for Playful Discovery!