The Addition Snake Game is a fun way for children to begin memorising facts, and of course, boost their adding skills. The goal of the activity is to turn a colourful snake into a golden snake by counting to ten.

The game has three components: a black and white bead stair, multicoloured beads, golden beads and a special notched card for the purpose of counting and marking – organised by coloured boxes in a bead tray.

The directress will begin the exercise by introducing the child to the black and white beads, which are then placed in an inverted triangle on the right side of the surface (the point of which will become evident in due course); the coloured bars are then introduced into the game.  During this first presentation, the coloured beads (which come in varying sequences from 1-9) are prepared in the shape of a snake, in sets of 10: so nine beads plus one bead; seven beads plus three…and so on. The child is then asked to count up to ten, using the coloured beads as a guide. Once the number 10 is reached, the coloured bead set is replaced with a golden bar (all of which constitute 10 beads).

During the second presentation, the directress will demonstrate what to do if the numbers don’t come out to exact sets of 10, which may happen when the child is creating his/her own snake. If the child gets to 10 in the middle of a set of beads, the remaining beads on that bar are replaced with the appropriate quantity from the black and white beads, otherwise known as the Black and White Bead Stair. These help the child with any leftovers they may need to fill in to add up to 10.

Have a look at the below tutorial:

Montessori materials can often seem arbitrary outside of their application but once used within the context of an activity, they begin to make sense…as is the case with the conjoined beads that form the crux of the Addition Snake Game. Once the game is understood, it becomes clear how this exercise helps children identify sets of they become acquainted with the possible number combinations that make up 10.