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Last week I posted Z’s Montessori Math activities on his shelf at 3 years old. One of his favorites is the Montessori numerals and counters activity.
What is the Montessori numerals and counters activity?
It is one of the earliest activities in a Montessori Math curriculum, along a variety of others. This activity focuses on numeration and the numbers 1-10.
How does the Montessori numerals and counters activity benefit the child?
I love this activity particularly because there is a “reward” of sorts at the end.
In the beginning, it
- promotes careful counting
- reinforces number sequencing
- encourages orderliness with the (somewhat mandatory) layout
It is a self-correcting exercise (as long as you place only the exact quantity of counters needed) and the child can easily identify if he has made a mistake and proceed to problem solving.
Towards the end, it helps the child to identify odd and even numbers (by the ability to slide a finger only through the even counters to push the even numbers up.) The child gets a visual impression of odd vs. even numbers and quantities.
I particularly love this layout because of this reason, but also because it already introduces indirectly the concept of number divisibility.
How to create the Montessori Numerals and Counters activity
All you need are:
- A set of numbers 1-10 (Mine came from a set similar to this, or you can use wooden craft numbers, or just write numbers on cardstock. Magnetic wooden numbers would be great for travel I would imagine!)
- 55 pieces of flat marbles (or any sort of counters/tokens/chips). I prefer round shapes because we are also learning the concept of units/tens/hundreds/thousands using beads, so everything ties together.
Or you can easily purchase a set from Amazon.
Put the numbers in a bowl, the counters in a separate bowl, and voila.
Giving a lesson on the Montessori Numerals and Counters
For this activity, I needed to show Z a few times before he remembered the required placement of each marble. All that was needed for this lesson is a demonstration without any words really. He was really excited and started to get impatient, so I had to speed up a little in order to get to the odd/even numbers demonstration. I slowed down during the odd/even demonstration, just to take a peek at his beaming face like he just discovered gold.
Just like the Montessori spindle box activity, he gets overwhelmed with all 10 numbers laid out even though he can easily finish about 5-6 numbers by himself. I find that working together gives him the motivation to finish the activity.
He has done this activity many times already, that I wonder if he can remember the odd and even numbers without any visual help. I will probably experiment one of these days to see if he can sort odd vs. even numbers. If he’s successful, I’ll be sure to share!
- Here’s the written lesson for your reference.
- A round-up of various DIY cards and counters for your inspiration.
- Here are other Montessori Math activities to introduce around the same time.