The Montessori Spindle Boxes
Every material designed by Dr. Montessori had the child’s work with their 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). In Montessori math, The Spindle Boxes are no exception.
The importance of Spindle Box
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.
How you present Montessori Spindle Boxes
The initial step in presenting this Montessori 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 straightforward and simply involves matching the number 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 the spindles?
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. This is because there is a built-in control of error; the total number of wooden spindles included in the set.
The Spindle Boxes prepare 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.
My child enjoys this activity so much. I hope yours will, as well.
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