DIY: Montessori Bead Bars

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.

The LipperLoppy Life: DIY Montessori Bead Bars

The LipperLoppy Life: DIY Montessori Bead Bars”

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”.

The LipperLoppy Life: DIY Montessori Bead Bars

The LipperLoppy Life: DIY Montessori Bead Bars

Then, I placed the number 2 card on the 40 card (making 42), and repeated the above statement.

The LipperLoppyLife: DIY Montessori Bead Bars

The LipperLoppyLife: DIY Montessori Bead Bars

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!

The LipperLoppy Life: DIY Montessori Bead Bars

The LipperLoppy Life: DIY Montessori Bead Bars

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.)


Today in Pictures

7:30 am: Morning TV

8:30 am: Breakfast of Spinach fruit smoothie, eggs and toast.


9:30 am: Gymnastics (I was too busy chasing the toddler to remember to take a photo.)
10:30 am: Fabric store hell. At least M could read the name of the store, and we did survive the long search for fabric and long wait to cut said fabric.


12:30 pm: Bleeding Baby. 😦 It’s amazing how much blood comes from a bit lip! And how scary it is for a parent to see.


1:00 pm: More math play.




*On the drive to speech, we were listening to an Aladdin song. I explained that Aladdin and Jasmine fall in love (the girls haven’t seen this movie yet). M mentions, again, how she married Jasmine and Aladdin. C tells M, “Mama says that Aladdin and Jasmine got inside love!”

2:00 pm: Speech class for M.


3:30 pm: Neighborhood walk to find bird nests.



*M says, “Mama, there are two different kinds of pine cones!” And C says, “There are so many different trees in our neighborhood!”

4:30 pm: I’m crying on the couch and M is crying in her bedroom. Immediately when we got to our driveway after our pleasant walk, M got angry and wouldn’t come inside. We have family safety rules about front yard play, and now was not an option. And frankly, I was hurt that she would treat me this way after our nice nest-finding walk that she has been begging me to do this week. Her outburst only happened because she was tired. But boy, parenting can be so tough! I’m glad that I at least kept my cool, but I feel so drained at the moment, and I still have two more days before Dada is back home.


(I actually am feeling much better now, and I’m sure a delish comfort-food dinner will help in my restoration as well. And maybe a shower too!)

DIY: Montessori Hundred Board

DIY Montessori Hundred Board
The LipperLoppy LIfe

A friend of mine posted a photo on Facebook of her sons playing with a Montessori Hundred Board that she found at a dollar store. I had never even heard of one, but immediately knew it would be the perfect activity to help M learn her higher numbers and see number relationships. I googled and found some nice wooden hundred boards, but I was hesitant to fork over the $20-$25. I downloaded a free hundred board app, but the free version only went to 25. I am rarely willing to purchase an app (I think our homeschooling budget would go through the roof if I started buying apps) and I really thought there was value in working out the board with your hands. So I googled for ideas about how to make one.

Obviously, there is a quick simple version of printing a hundred board on cardstock and laminating it, but I wanted something more durable. I first got the idea from this blog to add magnetic strips to the numbers. How genius! Magnets would help keep all those tiles in place as one works the board!

I wanted something thicker than cardstock or posterboard, so I browsed through my local Hobby Lobby this morning hoping to find some thin wood tiles. I was so pleased when I came across wood cubes, slightly bigger than 1/2″. They were perfect! I had already had cubes in the back of my mind, because reviews of some of the hundred boards on Amazon mentioned how cubes were easier for little hands to manipulate than flat tiles.

Originally I was going to print the numbers on some adhesive cardstock I already own, but I decided I would first quickly just Sharpie the numbers on the wood. I figured I could always “upgrade” the wood blocks for a nicer look later. I wanted to finish this project!

All in all, I spent about $6 to create our very own hundred board (we already own a magnetic board, but you could use a cookie sheet too). M was so excited to get working on it. And I was so pleased that I made it! M definitely needs work figuring out the numbers; she sometimes will mix a number around, mistaking a 28 for 82, for example. As M started working the board, I realized that I should add a line underneath the numbers; it sometimes made it harder for her to recognize what the numbers were without a line. She quickly realized how to count by tens on the board! First time counting by tens!

I was going to add the link for the hundred board chart I printed out, but there is an error on the chart! It’s pretty easy to find a free chart online or make one yourself. Once M is more confident with the numbers, I will give her chart printouts with missing numbers, until she has progressed to a blank 10×10 chart. We will probably eventually play games of counting by twos, threes, etc. If you have any suggestions of games to play with the hundred board, please let me know in the comments!

DIY Montessori Hundred Board
The LipperLoppy Life

  • "Living is learning and when kids are living fully and energetically and happily they are learning a lot, even if we don't always know what it is. " - John Holt
  • LipperLoppy? what???

    “LipperLoppy” is a word that my daughters invented. It is usually used as a silly adjective or noun. It's a frequent family joke and a good representation of our family's crazy joyful life.
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