I giggle when I look back at my first visit to a Montessori Classroom. A small child had tripped and dropped the Trinomial Cube, and I had no idea how to help get it back together. Without experience with materials, it would be a little tough to figure them out and see their purpose. Luckily for me, I had a 4 year old show me during my tour. Afterall, she did not need my help, I needed hers.

The Binomial Cube can be used in the child’s first year at Montessori. At my house it happened as soon as mouthing was no longer a concern, around age two. It provides a wonderful foundation for later math skills, by working the child’s skills in visual discrimination of form, size, and color.

There are several cubes for visual discrimination of form in the sensorial area, each physically representing mathematical equations. Although the child may not be initially aware, the Binomial Cube’s equation is ( a + b)^{3 }

When presenting this material, open the box carefully and sort the colors in rows. Place the lid in this orientation.

Build one layer on the lid, outside the box. Always start with red. My daughter checks her work by putting her hand on top to see if it’s all one level.

Next, build the cube inside the box. Starting with red, one layer at a time. Red only touches red, blue only touches blue. The child will know if it was put together correctly, otherwise the box will not properly close. In Montessori, that self-correcting part of the lesson is called Control of Error.

Give it a try!

*Jessie is a Primary Montessori Teacher and Mom to twin three year olds and a five year old. Jessie has a Montessori blog at The Education Of Ours, and can be found on Twitter. See her other Mommy Moment posts here.*

Fernando Camberos says

Hey Jessie, thanks for sharing. Every time I tour prospective parents (and Math teachers!) through the school I stop at the binomial cube. I always talk about how incredible Montessori math is for all students and how shocked I always am that traditional schools don’t have the materials to at least support the students that are struggling in Math. So many aha! moments with the cube, test tubes, checkerboard and others!

Lori@montessori MOMents says

We gave JR a binomial cube for his birthday. It was the gift that drew the most attention from all of the children. I still haven’t put it in our classroom. I forgot! Shame on me. Thanks for reminding me. 🙂

Nicole says

Great post – I had no idea you were supposed to build it on the lid! Thanks for linking to Montessori Monday. 🙂

Deb @ Living Montessori Now says

I always thought the binomial and trinomial cubes were brilliant! This is a wonderful introduction! I just featured it at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page.

Sarah Guildea says

I had a similar experience on my first time entering a Montessori classroom! I hadn’t a clue, I first thought it was a colour puzzle cube of some sort until the directress explained it to me. I was amazed at the thought of algebra being introduced at such a young age. The children in my class are enjoying working with the trinomial cube at the moment.

Shabnum Butt says

Though I have worked with it but when ever I see this exercise I do get panic. The control of error find my way out …………:) the exercise is presented clearly . Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

Jessica says

I love the binomial cube. The math materials is one of the reasons I fell in love with Montessori to begin with. I struggled so much in school with math, but if I had materials like these it probably would have been a different story.

Matt Bronsil says

Heard about a teacher who would put the trinomial cube (the bigger one) on her coffee table and enjoy watching adults trying to put it back together.