cards and counters

This relatively simple material consists of a set of numbers, and a stock of “dots” used to represent the numeral. Students set out their numbers, organizing them in proper order, and then line up the proper number of dots under each numeral. Students then begin to explore the concepts of odd and even numbers, by pairing up the dots under the numbers.

Montessori cards and counters is math material presented in the primary years, typically toward the middle of the second year. It consists of a set of wooden numbered cards and small red wooden circular counters. These generally come in a wooden box with separate compartments for each item. The purpose of this activity is to help children associate quantities with numbers. Prior to working with this material, children have worked with quantities without numbers, like with the number rods, as well as a couple of other 1:1 correspondence math materials, such as the spindle boxes. With this activity, children are also introduced to the concepts of odd and even numbers. Some Montessori schools and parents who Montessori homeschool choose to purchase a set of Montessori numbers and counters instead of the cards and counters and this is an acceptable alternative. The materials are very similar and accomplish the same goals. The only difference is the numbers and counters have the added sensorial component of the child being able to feel the shape of the numbers. Montessori schools often have only one set of either material, not both. There would just be an added step in the presentation. Some Montessori teachers and parents choose the number cards as they find the loose numbers to be both distracting and frustrating for some children. Children will sometimes focus on lining up the loose numbers just right and quit the activity before the counters have even been placed. If you are planning on presenting this Montessori activity in your home, these are things to consider.