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Montessori golden beads are all the same size, that are used to help students understand unit quantities of tens, hundreds, and thousands. A single bead comprises one unit or a point. Ten beads strung on a wire indicates ten, or a line. One hundred is indicated by ten bars side by side, which makes a square, and one thousand is ten one hundred stacked on top of each other, making a cube. You can use these various manifestations of these numbers to introduce the decimal system and, later, practice using it. This should be done after the child has mastered counting. The bead bars are made of colored beads on a wire in quantities of one to ten. Each bead bar quantity is a different color which helps support easy recognition of the amount represented by the beads. This material is used in both Primary and Lower Elementary.

– A tray containing 1 golden bead unit, 1 golden ten-bar, 1
golden hundred square and 1 thousand cube.
– A small mat for the table.

4 – 4 1/2 years

Presentation 1

Invite a child to come and work with you. Bring him to the shelf, name the lesson and have him bring the material over to the shelf.
Have him unroll the small mat onto the table.
Take the unit, feel it, and name it. “This is a unit.”
Give it to the child to feel and name it.
Have him place it on the right side of the small mat.
Repeat for the ten-bar.
When the child places it onto the small mat, count the beads.
Place the ten-bar vertically to the left of the unit.
Repeat for the hundred square.
Lay it on the mat to the left of the ten-bar.
Use the ten-bar to count how many tens are in the hundred.
Repeat for the thousand cube.
Place it to the left of the hundred square and use the hundred to count how many hundreds are in a thousand.

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Presentation 2

Compare the material in the box to the material that is on the tray that was used in Presentation1. This will show the child that units and tens are the same.
Take out a hundred from the box and compare it to the hundred on the tray.
Tell the child that the hundred on the tray is made of beads but the hundred in the box has beads drawn on it. But explain that they are still both hundreds.
Put the hundred from the box at the top of the mat.
Repeat and discuss for the thousand.
Place the thousand from the box above the hundred at the top of the mat.

Repeat by giving the child other amounts to get, such as 4 tens, or 7 hundred, or 5 thousand.
After some time, you place an amount of material onto the tray and have the child count to tell you how much there is.
Repeat this until the child seems comfortable with this exercise.
When the child can work well with one category, introduce two categories such as 4 units and 2 tens. Continue like this for three categories and then four categories.

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Direct Purpose
To introduce the child to the concept of the decimal system.
To make the child familiar with the names and relative sizes of the categories
To help the child with the difference in bulk between e.g. 6 units and 6 thousand.