The Decimal System; Montessori Math Materials

The Decimal System; Montessori Math Materials

Jan 19, '22

This week's focus is on the mathematical area of the classroom. As children develop their knowledge of works in this area, it is important to show the same information in a variety of formats. For example, early numeration activities include the number rods, the spindle box, the sandpaper numerals, and loose counting activities. While this knowledge is deepening, bring excitement to the curriculum through an introduction to the decimal system.

Introduction to the Decimal System

The golden beads are one of the most inviting works in the Montessori classroom. The beads are stored within a cabinet or “bank” and children learn to use the golden beads to do both simple and complex mathematics. Begin the introduction through the use of the ten bead box and golden bead exchange game.

This work introduces the concept of set making and shows the child that each unit can be combined to create a larger number. The correlation between each small bead and the ten bead chain makes it easy for the child to notice the similarities between the two sets. They begin to understand that each number can be combined with another to create a larger number, as well as the fact that each number can be divided into smaller numbers and sets.

Once children understand the correlation between units and tens,  the teacher can give lessons with the golden bead introduction tray. This tray shows the relationship between units, tens, hundreds, and thousands. This work is inviting and children of all ages will want to try this lesson.

The beauty with this work and all Montessori works is the variety of lessons that a teacher can provide, making it suitable for all ages. If a toddler is interested in this work but is not yet cognitively ready to understand a more abstract concept, invite them to work with the other numeration works in the classroom with the goal of getting to the decimal system soon. They will enjoy striving for the goal of being able to use the beautiful beads available to them.

Counting to 100
Once a child has moved on from units, they are ready to combine the tens in order to make 100. Help them practice their linear counting through the introduction of the 100 chain. The Golden Bead 100 Chain is more advanced because of the fine motor skills needed to organize the work and to place every small label along the chain. It is also a wonderful work for children who are cognitively ready but still need practice controlling their body. This work can be unforgiving to a child who has a lot of wiggles. Help them set up for success by demonstrating how to set up the mat and where to place their body in order to be successful with counting the beads from 1-100.


This week’s worksheet is a perfect extension for children who are counting to 100.

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