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Montessori Math on a Shoestring: Golden Beads

Montessori Math on a Shoestring Part One: Golden Beads {Montessori on a Budget}

The Montessori math materials were some of my favorite activities in my Montessori 3 to 6 and 6 to 9 training. I loved the hands-on, sensorial aspect to them, giving the child a concrete foundation from which to build on. But once I started teaching, it took lots of practice to do them adequately with my students! Luckily I had two co-teachers who were very experienced!

But what if you are a homeschooling mom? Not only do you need to learn the lessons of the math materials, but you have to buy and or make them! They can be very expensive and time consuming to make! And there's also the question of WHAT to buy and or make! But do you REALLY need ALL of the materials?

I have been consulting and helping homeschoolers implement Montessori in the home or in a daycare setting since 1998, and Montessori math STILL remains a challenge! So I am sharing my resources with you today to help make these wonderful materials affordable and less time consuming to make.

Above all else you need a complete set of the Golden Beads, or an alternative. They are used for the Decimal System, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. (To see what a whole set of 1-9000 Montessori Golden Beads and Decimal System looks like go here at Montessori Outlet.) When you first introduce the Decimal System you need beads and symbols (number cards) from 1 to 1000. Later on (for addition and subtraction, etc.) you need: 
Up to 45 Golden Bead (or DIY paper) Ten Bars (and use them for your Teen and Ten Boards).
Up to 45 Wooden (or DIY paper) Hundred Squares.
Up to 45 Wooden (or DIY paper) Thousand Cubes.
One Golden Bead Thousand Cube.

Here's where you can save money: Buy a non Montessori, less expensive alternative (to the Montessori Golden Beads) the 'Base Ten Math Blocks' on Amazon. You have three choices.
Choice #1
Set of 1-1000 non-Montessori Base Ten Math Blocks by Learning Resources.
You will need to make eight paper 1000 cubes for the Decimal 1 to 1000 lesson/s.
You will need to make up to 45 paper ten rods/bars for addition, subtraction, etc. 
You will need to make up to 45 paper hundred squares for addition, subtraction, etc.
You will need to make up to 45 paper thousand cubes for addition, subtraction, etc.
Choice #2
Larger set of 1-1000 non-Montessori Base Ten Math Blocks by Learning Resources.
You will need to make eight paper 1000 cubes for the Decimal 1 to 1000 lesson/s.
You will need to make up to 24 paper ten rods/bars for addition, subtraction, etc. 
You will need to make up to 45 paper hundred squares for addition, subtraction, etc.
You will need to make up to 45 paper thousand cubes for addition, subtraction, etc.
Choice #3
Classroom set of 1-1000 non-Montessori Base Ten Math Blocks by Nasco.
You will only need to make five paper 1000 cubes for the Decimal 1 to 1000 lesson/s.
You will only need to make up to 41 paper thousand cubes for addition, subtraction, etc.

Next, buy stamps or graph paper to make more bead materials!
To make paper hundred squares use a '100 Square Stamp' here on Amazon.com or buy a set of Base Ten stamps here on Amazon.com. However, you can buy graph paper already printed for you to use for your hundred squares and thousand cubes here on Amazon.com. Learn how to make a paper cube here on wikiHow.com. (Use the stamp before you tape or glue it together!)

To complete your set you need the 1-9000 Number (Symbol) Cards.
Free PDF download of Large Numbers (Symbols) 1-9000.
Buy and download PDF Small Numbers (Symbols) 1-9000 (print two sets).
If you want to buy already made Number (Symbol) Cards 1-9000: buy one large set and two small sets at MontessoriOutlet in USA (California).
If you want to draw and cut your own (two small sets and one large set) buy some white card stock paper and use colored pencils (green for units and thousands, blue for tens, red for hundreds).

The Montessori Golden Bead materials also include the teen beads and boards and the ten beads and boards, typically found in a Montessori preschool and introduced to children ages four and up after they know their numbers from one to ten and can count and sequence up to ten.

Teen Beads and Boards
Free Teen Board PDF download from Montessori Materials.
Buy Teen Beads, Boards, and Worksheets in PDF from Montessori-Print-Shop.
Use nine 10 bead bars from your set of Montessori Golden Beads or nine 10-block rods/bars from your set of Base Ten Math Blocks.

Ten Beads and Boards
Buy Ten Beads, Boards, and Worksheets in PDF from Montessori-Print-Shop.
Buy Teen and Ten Boards in PDF from Montessori for Everyone.
Use nine 10 bead bars from your set of Montessori Golden Beads or nine 10-block rods/bars from your set of Base Ten Math Blocks.

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Lastly, here is a brief Montessori math introduction from my Montessori training album:

Pre-math Skills and Practical Life

Practical life lessons with many steps, like polishing a brass figure, are indirect preparation for advanced math problems. For example, when a child is doing a multiplication problem, such as long division, she
needs to perform many steps to find the answer: and remembering the order of all the steps, for some students, can be difficult.

In the toddler and early preschool years, children begin with practical life lessons and materials that have one or two steps to them, like pouring or sweeping. Then they progress to practical life lessons and
materials that have three or four steps, like watercolor painting or making a book with paper.

Therefore, math curriculum includes practical life work for toddlers and early preschoolers..

The Concept of Numbers

A toddler learns numbers as names: from possibly 1-5  but won't necessarily know how to count or that these numbers are symbols of the amounts of something; a preschool child will learn this and also
learns 1) numbers one to ten, 2) that one, etc., is smaller and less than two, etc., 3) what zero is, 4) how to count to ten and 5) write her numbers from one to ten, before going on to the teens.

In elementary Montessori, children advance to larger numbers with the understanding (through hands-on experiences) that numbers (symbols) represent quantities.

They learn the teens, tens, hundreds, thousands, etc.

They learn the decimal system: units, tens, hundreds, thousands, and that each changes over at nine, ninety-nine, etc.


Stay tuned for part two when I cover the Montessori math (memorization) boards for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division!

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Looking for affordable Montessori and homeschool lessons? Visit my website Montessori for the Earth: affordable Montessori for birth to age nine. Like and follow Montessori on a Budget on FacebookNeed quality Montessori materials? Shop at our favorite Montessori seller (and our affiliate), Montessori Services!