Monday 12 November 2012


Montessori Activity: Introduction to Decimal Quantity - Beads & Number Cards

I "paid" J $1000 and he "sold" me the thousand cube
AGE: 4 - 4.5 years old (after mastery of Counters & Cards and Introduction to Decimal Quantity - Beads)


1.     To provide a sensorial experience in explaining the differences between one and thousand in terms of size and weight, thereby making concrete the concept of decimal quantity.

2.     In the process to familiarize the child with the names of the different categories.

3.     To acquaint the child with the written symbols for the decimal quantity.

1.     1 set of Large Number Cards 1, 10, 100, 1000
2.     1 of each bead material: unit bead, 10, 100, 1000.
1.     Cards - Name the Large Number Cards and show there they are kept.
2.     Take out 1, 10, 100 and 1000 cards.
3.     Introduce the cards as “one unit”, “one ten – with one zero”, “one hundred – with two zeros” and “one thousand – with three zeros”.
4.     Take out Card 1 and ask the child what it is.
5.     Take out Card 10 and ask the child what it is.
6.     Notice how many zeros are in the number 10.
7.     Repeat for Cards 100 and 1000.
8.     Bring your child’s attention to the color coding of the cards.
9.     Do a Three Period Lesson, each time highlighting how many zeros are in the number.
10.  Beads - Ask your child to bring the Decimal Demonstration Tray with beads.
11.  Start by taking out the 1, 10, 100, 1000 beads from the tray and name them.
12.  Take the Numeral Cards and ask the child to see if he remembers or not.
13.  Match the golden beads with the numeral cards below them respectively, naming them 1, 10, 100 and 1000 accordingly.
14.  Put back the golden beads into the demonstration tray, repeating their respectively name as you go along.
15.  Put back the cards repeating their respectively name as you go along.
16.  Invite the child to try.
Make it interesting by playing “The Shopping Game”: Pretend that the Number Cards are money to buy the beads. Show him “money” Card 1 and ask him what you can buy with it. He should give you the unit bead in exchange. Show him “money” Card 10 and ask him to give him the bead that you could buy with the “money”. He should give you a ten-bar. Repeat the same for the Card 100 and Card 1000.
1.     One of each quantity is provided.
2.     One of each symbol is provided.
3.     The size of the concrete quantities and symbols.
In continuation from yesterday, J (3Y8M7D) tried this today. He enjoyed very much walking one round with each of the category of beads. It got a little monotonous teaching the Number Cards… and I got a little sad :-(. Then an idea came to my mind. Hey, J loves to play the shopping game with his cash register. Why not use the same concept and pretend that the number cards are money! I made it into a “Shopping Game”. The Number Card 1 became $1, the Number Card 10 became $10, the Number Card 100 became $100 and the Number Card 1000 became $1000. That gave an about turn and he was very eagerly playing the game, and learning the name of the number as well as recognizing the numbers in a more determined way. Thank God, thank God, thank God. I really can’t thank God enough for the timely idea that came to my mind.
I discussed it with Daddy and we agree that J is probably too young to understand the concept of 1000, but I think that it gave him an idea of what it is. After all, this is what the activity aims to do - to provide a sensorial experience. The full understanding will come later with more experience and age. This will help him to build on his basic understanding until the day he is ready to put all into a full picture. The most important thing is that J was interested and having fun with the “shopping game” using Number Card and Beads.

I bought our demonstration tray from, but it is also available from Amazon:

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