Monday 21 April 2014


Montessori Activity: The 45 Layout – Beads & Large Numbers (Decimal System)

AGE: 4 - 4.5 years old


1.     To give an overall view of the decimal system and the fact that in base there may be no more than nine in any one category, for both beads and cards.

2.     To make evident the parallel hierarchy of the quantities and their symbols.

3.     To combine the quantities and symbols in practice and to become familiar with their correspondence.


1.     45 of each type of golden beads: ones, ten-bars, hundred-squares and thousand-cubes

2.     1 set of Large Number Cards: 1 – 9, 10 – 90, 100 – 900 and 1000 - 9000.

3.     1 mat (optional)


1.     Lay out the cards from 1-9, 10-90, 100-900, 1000 -900 in a right to left column respectively.
2.   Lay out the beads next to the respective cards in the same manner you did the cards – units, ten-bars, hundred-squares and thousand-cubes.
3.   Count them out as you go all the way through to 9000.
4.   Once the entire layout is complete, the child should be able to count exactly the number of beads corresponding to the card.
5.     Invite the child to construct the layouts independently.

6.     Repeat as many times as needed.


1.     With the two mats spread out, place a certain number beads of a category on a tray and ask the child to find the corresponding card for this amount of beads. Count the beads with the child: “one ten, two tens, three tens…” placing them as they are counted in a neat column in front of the card.

2.     Situate yourself on the mat with the Number Cards. Give each child a tray and a number card. Ask the child to bring back the amount of beads from the bead mat stated on the number card in the tray. When the beads are brought back, count them aloud. Thank the child and request that the cards and beads be put back into their respective arrangements.


The exact number of beads is provided


May do Three Period Lessons any time.

J (5Y1M16D) tried this for the first time today. I didn't plan to demonstrate this today, but it just happened. It was his own initiative and a natural progression after he completed the Hundred Board. I asked him how does hundred look like, and asked him to bring me the hundred-square. He went to bring me the Large Number Cards as well, and began to lay them out himself. Once he has completed that, I took the opportunity to encourage him to place the corresponding amount of beads next to the Large Number Cards layout. I asked him bring me the cubes for 9 thousands and he did it. We verified by counting it.


Shu-Chen Jenny Yen’s On-line Montessori Albums

Brilliant Minds Montessori


Updates 17 February 2024:

C (7Y9M) tried this for the first time today, and she could do it easily. But it was still a very good activity for her to see physically how thousands look like compared to hundreds.

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