Montessori Math: The Spindle Boxes

Montessori and child development

Every material designed by Dr. Montessori had the child’s hands in mind. Dr. Montessori believed that the child who has the chance to use her hands in learning has the chance to attain a superior level of character and intelligence. For this reason, the materials were designed to fit in a small child’s hands, allowing them to more completely experience the presented concept. The materials actively engage the child’s senses, including tactile, visual, muscular, kinesthetic, and baric (weight).

How does Montessori teach math?

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1:1 correspondence and the concept of zero

The Spindle Boxes are no exception. The wooden spindles are introduced after the child has a solid understanding of the quantities 1-10 and recognizes the corresponding numeric symbols. This activity is introduced prior to the Zero Game and is the child’s introduction to the concept of zero.

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Madeline (3) working with the Spindle Boxes.

How you present Montessori Spindle Boxes

The initial step in presenting this activity is ensuring the child is familiar with the written numerals. This is done by asking the child to name the numbers, in numerical order and at random. The rest of the presentation is very straight forward and simply involves matching the quantity of spindles to the corresponding number slot.

Along with the spindles, you should include ribbons, elastics, or pipe cleaners to bind the spindles. You can pick the binding materials based on your child’s abilities.

Why bind?

Binding the quantities is an important step because it reinforces that the quantity that has been counted is a set. When the activity is complete and all the quantities are bound, you may ask the child to make some observations about each bunch. The child might pick up the bundle of eight and comment that it is heavier than the bundle of two. Or they might comment on how much space the different quantities take up in their hands.

This is a fun activity and, after the initial presentation by the parent or teacher, can be done on the child’s own, as their is a built in control of error; the total number of wooden spindles.

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Madeline (3), enjoying counting the Wooden Spindles.

Montessori prepares for the decimal system

Another benefit to this activity, is it gets the child ready for future work with the decimal system, as 9 is the limit of the units category. (You will notice 9 being the greatest number in several other Montessori activities.) I will be writing in greater detail about how early Montessori math activities prepare the child for the decimal system in the near future. So, sign up for updates and follow us on Facebook!

(This material can be purchased or, if budget is a concern, I’ve seen this material DIY on a Pinterest page here and there.)

My child enjoys this activity so much! I hope yours will, as well!

Cheers!

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