Traditional Montessori materials, especially math materials, facilitate children tremendously in the assimilation of abstract concepts like numerals, teens, and ten’s. Dr. Maria Montessori envisioned children holding and “feeling” the quantity of, for example, the ten Numerical Rod and really grasping that “10” is big and “1” is small. Montessori Teen and Tens Boards are another ingenious material which presents an abstract concept of teens and tens as concretely as possible with golden ten-bars and colored beads. Not only a child sees how tens and ones are being added to make larger numbers, but s/he is also physically building tens themselves!
Montessori Tens Board with Beads, also called Seguin Board B or Seguin Board 2 teaches a child (3-5 yo approx.) to associate the quantities and symbols from 20 to 90. Using the Tens Boards, the child explores the number names of the tens and the sequence of numbers 11–99. Bead quantities are created from the 10 bars and unit beads in the Tens Bead Box and are associated with the corresponding numeral on the Tens Board. This material is very concrete as it is important for children to visually and physically build numbers both numerals and quantity. In a Montessori math curriculum, numbers are perceived as (1) a quantity e.i. actual number-rods or spindles, marbles, beads your child is holding in hands, which is a true quantity/what a number really is – such quantity is referred to as “THIS IS __” and (2) as a numeral, that is a symbol we came up with to represent the quantity on paper – a written numeral is referred to as “THIS SAYs __”. For example, if you point to a written number 2, you will state to your child: “this says 2″ versus when your child is holding two apples, you will refer to those two apples as “this is 2.”
- Tens Board
- 45 Golden Bead Bars of 10
- Montessori Checker Board beads
- a floor mat
- Control of error: there are a fixed amount of ten-bar beads
Presentation Step 1: Point to the first number 10 slot on a board and state: “this says 10” and then count the beads in a ten-bar and say: “this is a 1-ten bar. ” Then place a ten-bar next to the numeral 10. Then point to the number 20 on a board: “this says 20″ and ask your child to give you 2 ten-bars and place them next to the written number 20. So, as a first step, you would lay out ten-bars next to each corresponding tens-number: number ten will have one ten-bar, number twenty will have two ten-bars next to it, thirty will have three ten-bars and so on. You are welcome to invite your child to do it with you. In the process, the child identifies the symbol, counts out the appropriate amount of ten-bars and places them in the correct place. A child would do this for all the numbers up to 90.
Presentation Step 2: Next, you will ask your child to “build” a number. At this point, you will be working with number-tiles by sliding them into the “unit” places on the board. For example, to make number 25, since two-ten bars are already there, you would ask your child to give you five-units (a five-blue-bead) which has to be added to the two-ten bars. Point to the blue-5-bead and say “this is 5″ and ask your child to place the 5-bead next to the 3-ten bars. After “making” the number 25 as quantity (with ten bars and units), a child will then slide wooden number tile 5 on the board over the number twenty’s one place, making number 25. In the process, a child sees the numeral written, and s/he also is making that numeral: 2-tens and a 5-bead. Proceed until all tiles are placed on the board. You can do it in random order.
Note: keep in mind that children need movement and it might be hard for them to sit still, so you might want to place number-tiles across the room and ask your child to get up and get it each time, offering an opportunity for some gross motor numbers fun.
This is a very concrete representation of the otherwise very abstract concept. In a Montessori Math curriculum, numbers are broken down into units, tens, hundreds, etc. For example, the child is shown what the number is made up of. The child is holding the two – ten bars, “feeling” the twenty, and adding different units to it, making different numbers. Such presentation substantiates the understanding that if you add three-units to twenty, you will have 23, if you add four units to twenty, you will have 24 and so forth. The more units you add, the bigger the ten-number will be. Thereafter, similarly, as with the Tens Board presentation, you will present a Three Period Lesson (read how to present here).
You can easily make a DIY version of Tens Board using hard cardstock: green for “units” and blue for “tens”. Also, we made DIY Montessori beads and ten-bars from pipe cleaners and pony beads (details here). You can even make the boards from cardboard and adhere strips of wooden dowels as dividers. You can also offer your child a hundred board and as you decide which number to “make” take that tile out and place it next to that number on the board. Hundred board is another amazing tool to teach your child number sequencing, patterns and more.
This presentation on Tens Board is very similar to the Teens Board presentation. See details on presenting the Teen Boards here “Working with Numerals and Beads (Teen-Board intro).” Also, read here “Teen Board at 36 months – Montessori Math Lesson (This “IS” vs. “SAYS”).” For Holiday inspirations, read here “Christmas-Inspired Teen Board.” And, see here Teen Board Extension with Ladybug Pegs.
If you are interested, I wrote in details about “What is Montessori Math?” in this post. Also, see a post about the first math/sensorial material you would introduce to your child at about the age of two: Numbers Rods (see a post here).
Please, always follow your child and end the activity before your child loses the interest or becomes tired. Xo