We have been exploring early number concepts and I have recently introduced my daughters to the Montessori short bead stair. I fell in love with Montessori a number of years ago when I went search for a hands-on approach to teaching children with special needs and we have slowly incorporated this into our home education. So I want to share with you how we introduced the Montessori Short Bead Stair for learning about early number concepts.
Before I introduced to the Montessori Short Bead Stair to my daughters they both were able to identify numbers to ten. We had worked on this by using our Sandpaper Numbers and salt trays to trace the number and write it in the salt. Miss 6 has had some trouble identifying six and nine as they look alike so she has worked at her own pace on these numbers.

First they would trace over the sandpaper number card using their index finger on their writing hand while saying the number out loud. This was followed by drawing the number in the salt while saying the number. By doing this, the learner is using their senses auditory, visual and kinesthetic to keep the learning as multisensory as possible. 

I’ve seen a few different tutorials on how to introduce the Montessori Short Bead Stair so I placed the beads and number cards on our shelf and waited for curiosity to take over for more authentic child-led learning. I introduced my daughters to the beads by discussing value, the length of the bead chain and how the different colours represented the different value.

We used our wooden number cards to order the numbers from smallest to largest before matching the beads to their corresponding number. We talked about how the longest bead bar represented the biggest or largest number making a connection between number value.
After the initial introduction, both my daughters independently worked on this activity at different times and only required minimal support. 
It’s also important to encourage the learner to randomly identify numbers rather than just ordering numbers from smallest to biggest. When identifying numbers in isolation, you are able to see if the learner is having trouble distinguishing and identifying different numbers. This was something I had overlooked when we first started exploring numbers.   

Learning about numbers with the Montessori Short Bead Stair is the foundation for learning about teen and ten numbers. As we are focusing on numbers zero to nine (sometimes we add the ten bead bar) we were able to use our Short Bead Stair to make simple addition sums. The whole process of laying the beads out and counting them individually gave my daughters a wonderful multisensory learning experience that encouraged independent learning and mastery of early maths concepts.
For those who are interested, I purchased our Short Bead Stair set, our Small Wooden Number Cards and a number of other high quality Montessori resources from I Am Montessori.

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