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The Montessori spindle box is one of first activities in a Montessori math curriculum.
While it seems to be a pretty basic activity, it is an important one to reinforce:
- the concept of careful counting
- the concept that a numeral is associated with a certain quantity
- the concept of zero
- the sequence of the numerals
- giving the child a sensorial grasp of few vs. many
The Montessori spindle box is one of the easiest and cheapest to DIY.
Here’s our DIY Montessori spindle box:
- 11 long baskets (I purchased mine from the dollar store for $0.30 each)
- 45 unsharpened pencils (I prefer pencils so the child can get a good sensorial grasp of each quantity bundle)
- Numbers 0-9 (You can either pre-attach the numbers to each basket, or if your child already knows how to arrange them in order, you can add that challenge for them too)
Note: If you decide to split the spindle box to 0-4 and 5-9, then you will need to adjust the number of pencils accordingly so that there are exactly enough for the corresponding numerals, no more, no less.
Here’s how I keep it on the shelf:
How to present a lesson on the Montessori spindle box
Here’s how I presented the lesson:
- I told him the name of this new activity and where it’s kept on the shelf.
- Then I gave him a demonstration of how to do this activity.
- First, lay out all the baskets in a row.
- Then, arrange the number cards in order, starting with 0.
- Then, starting with 1, take out the corresponding quantity of pencils and place them on the mat, then re-count them carefully before placing them into the basket.
- I asked him to grab all the pencils in one hand, in a fistful, in order to place them in the basket. The reason for doing this is to have a good sensorial grasp of the quantities.
For more details, here’s a written and video lesson for your reference.
Here he is working on the Montessori spindle box at 3 years old
- At 3 years old, Z is still pretty young for Math. I’m charging ahead because he has a voracious appetite for anything to do with numbers now, but being young, he gets easily overwhelmed after about 4-5 baskets. What I will do is remove baskets 6-9 so that he has a chance to complete his work independently. I will probably re-introduce one additional basket at a time until he can finish all of it.
- I want to teach him how to align all the pencils on the table after grabbing them and before placing them into the basket. I’d like him to have that extra few seconds of grasping those pencils so that he can have a really good sensorial feel of the quantities.
Here’s what else we are working on in Montessori Math at 3 years old.
As a side note, Montessori observations are very important to understand where the child is on his development – click here to read my simple but profound experience (at least for me.)