Monday, May 7, 2012

Montessori Lite: Cards and Counters

Normally this work isn't introduced until a child is about 4 (it's 5th in the Number Work Progression), but Alleluia REALLY wanted to work with it--I think she likes the way these materials FEEL--so I gave in.

This is easy and cheap.  Go to Michael's (or Hobby Lobby or any good arts and crafts store) and buy card-sized pieces of wood.  These are for the numerals 1-9 and all you need to do is sand them a little before painting the numbers in red.  For 10 I had to buy one of those little wooden signs that hangs from a door knob (also from Michael's)--you know, those kind that can say "Please do not disturb" or whatever?  This will have to be cut down into a rectangular shape that is roughly twice as wide as the 1-9 cards.  No biggie--it's super thin wood and even good kitchen shears can cut through.  Sand it and paint.

You may want to polyurethane the cards if they will get a lot of use.

Even numbers have two columns of counters.....

...while odd numbers have the last counter in the middle.
For the counters:  you can use anything that is a uniform shape and color, but watch out if you have a child who puts everything in his mouth!  (Usually this work isn't presented until well after the age when this is a problem, but ya never know.  Plus, think about younger siblings or visitors).  I just bought those cheap glass stones you see in the dollar stores and in craft stores.  I've seen people use pebbles, poker chips, acorns--pick something you and your child like to handle.  I store these in a locked "Math" cabinet.

For a container in which to store the counters I used a heavy glass tea light holder.  I like the sound the counters make when you return them to it.  Only problem is, it makes carrying this work on a small tray a little heavy for a toddler.  (Oh, the tray was from Michael's, too, and you've seen this extra big mat before--it was sold as a table runner at Pottery Barn.)

Neat sound!

Rolling up the mat is part of returning the work.


  1. I like this idea for teaching counting and numbers. When my kids were a little older, I used dice to teach addition and subtraction, rather than flash cards. As they moved into multiplication and division I bought 10 and 12 sided gamer's dice. It worked really well.

    1. That's a great idea, Katie! I'll have to try that. Thanks!