Friday 2 May 2014


Montessori Activity: Making Combinations of 10 with Colored Bead Stair (Part 1) (加法 [jiāfǎ])

AGE: 4.5 to 6 years (after the child has knowledge of the quantities up to 10 and is ready to learn the Positive Snake Game)


1.     To provide your child a sensorial experience of addition by making 10s with different combinations of numbers from the colored bead stair.

a.     Understand that a 10 can be made out of 2 or more bead bars.

b.    See that the colored bead bars making a ten is the same length as the 10 bar.

c.     See the different patterns made by the bead bars.

2.     To prepare your child for the Montessori Positive Snake Game.


1.     1 set of Decanomial Bead Bars - a box with 10 compartments containing 55 of each colored bead bars from 1-10.

2.     1 notched cardboard/plastic counter that can fit between the beads of a bead bar (optional).

3.     1 mat. 


1.     Place a golden 10-bar vertically on the mat and count it.

2.      Let your child choose a colored bead bar from the box. If he picks a 7-bar, place it next to the 10-bar and count 7.

3.     Ask, "What other color bead bar(s) can we combine to make 10?"

4.     Count the remaining beads on the 10-bar and ask the child to give you the colored bead bar to match, in this case 3. Place the color bead bars side-by-side against the 10-bar and count them to verify the answer.

5.     Repeat step 1-4 until all the 10-bars are used up. 


1.     Make it into a game and take turns to make different combinations of 10.

2.     Let your child make 10s with the colored bead bars and then verify by placing the 10-bar next to it.

3.     Let your child make other quantities larger than 10 by combining bead bars.

4.     Let your child make other quantities smaller than 10 by combining bead bars.


The number of colored bead bars lined side-by-side should total 10 as the golden 10-bar.  
Shu-Chen Jenny Yen’s On-line Montessori Albums

I tried this for the first time with J (5Y1M27D) this evening. He loved it and said that it was the best Montessori Maths activity ever :-) We challenged each other taking turns to make different combinations of 10. J was very creative and got many of them correct. Those he got wrong, we had a chance to count and see where he had calculated incorrectly.You can see Part 2 lesson plan here:

Updates 1 May 2015 (6Y1M26D):

It is exactly 1 year since we first worked on this. Our Little FECS requested to work on this today. This time round, he really had a lot of fun. He is older and more independent, and he thought up many different combinations himself. It took very long, and it was way past bedtime at 9pm. He had completed 29 different combination. So we agreed that he would continue tomorrow.

1 May 2015 (6Y1M26D): Making combinations of 10 with colored bead stair

The 29 combinations that J made... it was time to sleep... so he will continue the following day...

Updates 27 Feb 2024:

27 Feb 2024: Baby FECS (7Y9M11D)

The Decanomial Bead Box is available from Amazon:

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