Sunday 11 November 2012


Montessori Activity: Home-made Numbers & Counters - Odd & Even Numbers

AGE: From 4 years old (after The Spindle Box has been introduced)


1. To reinforce the knowledge that each number is made up of separate quantities.

2. To reinforce the sequence 1 – 10 and how many separate units go to form each number.

3. To introduce the concept of odd and even numbers.

4. To provide indirect preparation for divisibility of numbers.


1. 10 numeral cards (1 – 10)

2. 55 counters of the same color.

3. A straight edge.


Day 1: Cards

1. Name the Numbers and Counters and show where they are kept.

2. Ask the child to lay out a floor mat.

3. Lay out the number cards randomly on the mat and have the child say the numbers out loud.

4. Arrange the number cards in numerical order by saying: “Give me Card 1” and have the child put the Card 1 down. Repeat for the other cards until all the cards are laid out in numerical order.

5. Point to Card 1 and ask: “How many counters should you place under this card?”

6. The child should answer 1 and give you a counter.

7. Put the counter below Card 1 and ask the child to count the counter. Ask: “What comes next?”

8. Repeat for the other numbers placing even numbers in pairs and placing the odd numbers with the last counter under and to the middle of the pair until the child understands. (See diagram above)

9. Explain the concept of odd and even numbers: even numbers are those you can find a friend for each of them two-by-two; odd numbers are those with one left alone and has no friend :-(

Day 2: Odd and Even

1. The child constructs the Numbers and Counters from Day 1’s presentation.

2. Run the tip of your index finger down the middle of each column of pairs; for each row in which your finger strikes an unpaired counter at the end of the column, move the card a little above where it was.

3. Tell the child that the numbers which does not have a friend (i.e. an unpaired counter) are “odd” numbers, because you cannot divide it when you draw your finger down (你不能分割ge3), by saying: “This one does not have a friend, so it is an odd number.”

1. Repeat for counters 2 and after you have run your finger through the two counters, tell the child that the numbers with a friend standing two-by-two (i.e. pairs of counters) are “even” numbers, because you can divide it by saying: “This one has a friend, so it is an even number.”

2. Have the child repeat for the remaining counters.

3. Do a Three Period Lesson for odd and even.

4. Once the child is finished, look at all of the cards that are slightly higher than the others (cards 1, 3, 5, 7, 9) and tell the child that these are odd numbers (Stage 1)

5. Point to the other cards (cards 2, 4, 6, 8) and tell the child that these are even numbers (Period 1)

6. Repeatedly ask your child to find one that is odd or even or ask your child whether a particular number is odd or even (Period 2).

7. Point to a number and ask: “What is this?” (Period 3).



1. The correct number of counters and numerals are provided.

2. Visual image of the pattern of the counters.


1. Introduce this activity in parallel with the spindle box.

2. On day 1, you put out the pattern until the child get it, and you may stay longer to see if the child need help.


Joshua (3Y7M10D) tried this on 15.10.2012 and 17.10.2012.

Updates 11.2.2013 (3Y11M6D):

We repeated this activity today and J was getting better in grasping the concept of odd and even numbers. He was also better in arranging the counters in pairs than before.

Updates 21.4.2020 (3Y11M5D):

C tried this activity for the first time today. She could do it by herself from 1 - 4. She needed some help with no. 5. She could put them in pairs, but it wasn't consistent.

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