The checkerboard is one of my favourite pieces of Montessori materials. 5 years ago I blogged about this homemade checker board which I made from felt.
I have had great success introducing the checkerboard to my students. However, I have noticed that some students do find it difficult to understand the place value of each square on the checkerboard. I was recently introduced to this preliminary exercise which I have now started using in my elementary class. This lesson is great and has been very popular :).
It is very easy to make this activity. Each of the squares is cut out from felt. They measure 4cmx4cm. You need 10 green, 9 blue and 9 red.
I then made label cards for each square. I have uploaded the file here to share with you all for free.
When presenting this lesson you start with the unit row [bottom row]. You place the green square at the bottom right of your mat and label it. To the left of this you place the blue square, name as 'tens' and label. You continue placing the squares for this row until you have reached 1 million. Next you start on the tens rows by placing the ten square on the second row above the units and continue placing the squares and labeling until you reach ten million. The hundreds and thousands rows are built in the same way.
A fun extension to this lesson is to play a card game. 2-3 children can randomly select a pile of cards. Each child then has to place the labels on the correct square. The winner is the child who first places all the labels correct!
Let me know if you make and try this lesson. I'd love to know how it works for others.