The short bead stair is a way to visually represent number values; making abstract concepts more concrete so that children can better grasp mathematical principles. The objective of the lesson is to reinforce number quantities from 1 to 9 thus preparing children for addition, subtraction and lessons using the teen board (link to subsequent tutorial).
The lesson, as presented below by Celaudette makes use of specific Montessori materials, namely a set of coloured bead bars (beads threaded onto wire, representing numbers 1 to 9) but once you’ve understood the lesson in principle, you could get creative with materials you have at your disposal at home. Let’s have a look:
The idea is to work through the number values with your child one by one, building the triangle as you go, which serves as a visual representation of ‘smallest to largest’. Once you have presented the lesson, encourage your child to have a turn without your help. To reinforce the numerical principles, muddle up the bead bars on the work mat and then ask your child to reassemble the triangle the right way up (smallest to largest) and then to invert the triangle (largest to smallest).
If little ones are struggling to grasp the application, Maria Montessori said “Only practical work and experience lead the young to maturity” (The Absorbent Mind) – so, repeat the lesson and allow your child to work at her own pace (even if it means putting it away until next time).
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