First, I just want to say that I am not a Montessori expert; I’ve barely read much on it. But being an eclectic homeschooler, I borrow a lot from wherever. After making my version of the Montessori Hundred Board, I realized that M still needed more manipulative work in truly understanding the numbers on the hundred board. A friend had previously mentioned Montessori Bead Bars, and they sounded perfect. Originally I was planning on using chenille stems and beads to make the bead bars, but since our toddler is very involved in what her big sisters are doing, I did not want to risk the bead bars being mouthed by the toddler, broken, etc, and I especially did not want it to be an activity that can only be done when the toddler is napping.
But it was important to me to keep the “bead bars” tactile; I wanted each individual “bead” to be felt. So Sharpie marker on craft sticks was not going to be enough. I have heard of gluing beans to craft sticks, but again, I knew that would be easily mouthed and destroyed by the toddler (and I really disliked the idea of gluing 100 beans or sequins, it seemed too tedious). If you are interested in making your own bead bars, I suggest checking out this blog, which has gathered a lot of ideas, and which, unfortunately, I did not find until after I made mine.
So, what did I settle on for our “bead bars”? I chose to use adhesive cardstock paper and craft sticks. Simple, quick, and effective, and it even survived the toddler’s mouth!
Now again, I have no idea of the Montessori-correct way of using bead bars. But here’s how we’ve been exploring them:
For C, the preschooler, I made paper templates for counting the teen numbers.
For M, the kindergartner, I made number cards and explained how to match the amounts to the number cards (with her Hundred Board nearby for reference as well). I modeled the activity after the “Matching Amounts and Numerals” from this PDF document I found online.
For example, first I placed a 40 card and a 2 card near each other, and said, “40 and 2 make 42”.
Then, I placed the number 2 card on the 40 card (making 42), and repeated the above statement.
Seriously, I could almost see the light-bulb clicking! She spent the next 20 minutes playing with these manipulatives. Eventually she started placing the tens on her hundred board to help her count out the higher numbers. How ingenious!
And then she wanted to make numbers higher than 100, which caught me off-guard, as I had only prepared up to 100. I guess I will be making more tens this week! This activity also taught her how to skip count in tens very quickly. (She’s since picked up skip counting in twos as well, since we’ve checked out a library book about that.)