Mathematics: The Decimal System

Children in Montessori classrooms are introduced to the decimal system and place value using the Golden Bead Material that represents the values of ten in a concrete manner. The Golden Bead Material is composed of beads that are uniform in size and colour but their quantities change.

montessori counting with golden beads

The idea is that children gain a sensorial understanding of place value through sight, touch and weight – by manipulating the Golden Bead Material, which consists of:

  • unit beads
  • ten bars
  • hundred squares
  • thousand cubes

For a better understanding of how you might apply this lesson in your home with the same (or similar materials), watch the below tutorial by My Montessori Works:

Introducing decimals is typically presented in three parts, which includes 1)Introduction, 2)Association/Recognition and 3)Recall, to allow for a slower, easier absorption process. By the end of the lesson, children will have held, named and counted each category (unit, ten, hundred, thousand) and placed them in the correct order.

The follow-on from this is to introduce the number (symbol) – as printed on cards – that represents each category, and the final phase is the association between the unit and the numeral.

Children should work at their own pace as they become familiar with quantities and names of different categories.

If you’d like further information about this tutorial, feel free to contact us at info@saintandrewsmontessori.com. We’re happy to answer any questions.