Charlotte Montessori Blog

The Golden Beads

The infamous golden beads are one of my most favorite Montessori works as they can be used to teach many different concepts. They also provide a concrete example of what a number looks like. For example, the child can make the number 278 with the number cards to see how it is written and then they can gather the units, ten bars and hundred squares from the bank to see what 278 looks like. For those of you who may not be familiar with the golden bead material, lets start with an introduction!

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The golden beads consist of the unit bead, ten bar, hundred square and thousand cube. When laying out the materials we always lay the unit bead to the far right followed by the tens, hundreds and thousands. Once the child has been introduced to the golden beads and has mastered the three period lesson, we introduce the number cards.

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After the children have mastered the correlation between the golden beads and the number cards we show the connection between each material. With the building tray, we show how 10 unit beads make a ten bar, 10 ten bars make a hundred square and 10 hundred squares make a thousand cube. Once they have mastered this concept, we move onto the…..drum roll please….. 45 layout!!!

DSCN0067The 45 layout is a challenging work that requires focus, time and a sense of order. This work uses all of the golden bead material from the bank to illustrate all of the amounts from 1 to 9000. After practicing with the 45 layout,we introduce number composition. With number composition the child practices creating numbers with the number cards and fetching that number from the bank,

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At this point the child has mastered the golden beads and is ready for addition with the bank. We begin with 2 digit static (no remainder) addition and work our way up to 4 digit (dynamic) addition problems. Here are pictures of a my 2nd year students from last year completing a static addition problem.

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As you can see, there is a lot you can do with the golden beads! There is also multiplication, subtraction and division. The golden beads provide a fun yet educational way for our students to learn the decimal system. This work also incorporates gross motor as the children are expected to carry the materials from the bank to rug each time they make a new number,