Montessori Bead Chains - DIY Printable Beads, Use and Storage Ideas

The Montessori Bead Cabinet is an amazing material that can often look far more complicated than it actually is. There are many amazing lessons, but also used in it's simplicity it is fun and so effective for children to practice linear and skip counting. It is a physical, hands on representation of the concept of squaring and cubing of numbers.

I was convinced early on that we needed to have some form of Bead Cabinet, and while this is so effective and practical in the classroom it was not so for us at home. That being said for some it may be, thus coming back to always following your children and what works best for them.

No matter how you house the bead collection, organization is still of great importance in making the material accessible and self serve to your children (when they choose or are showing interest in working with numbers) to use it.

The hundred and thousand chain got by far the most interest, and use in our house. Ava is again expressing great interest in skip counting. I have mentioned before that she has a huge love of procedure and process, so in this post she is exploring the hundred and thousand chains together.

We do own the complete Bead Cabinet Materials and arrows, as it was gifted to us by family. It is however very expensive. You can acquire a set of the beads without cabinet for approx $300. For those who can and who feel a classroom set-up at home will work for your family and children, it is a beautiful set-up to have.

We did not have space enough for the full size cabinet, so we created a compact version that you can see here. It included everything in the larger version.

We have made significant changes to our home.
In short...
We have not utilized a "Montessori class area/room" for quite some time. We were never interested in creating a "literal translation" of a Montessori Classroom in our home, but yet had the need for organization of the materials. We fell into the trap of thinking that Montessori materials were a separate entity in our home, when in our hearts and life this couldn't have been further from the truth. A classroom is just that a room that must make use of the space available to service the children who spend entire days in this room. We are home and life learners and it was a concious choice to live with our children this way, so it made far more sense for us in the end to utilize the materials and make them ours in the context of our natural learning environment.

It did not feel natural in any way (for us) in the end to have one Montessori room. Thus the materials have migrated and found their natural order about our home. In low cabinets, on shelves in baskets and areas that the children always worked (played) in. When the novelty of exploring a new space (could be true of anywhere) diminished they returned to their favourite areas of our home, exploring the materials as interest should arise. Again please understand that we do what works for our family thus "Making Montessori Ours" and others are free to do what works for them and their children.  More on all of this later...

Other learning that is reinforced through such beautifully placed and organized materials is to reinforce sequence, patterns, order of objects, and care of their environment. The ability for a child (think about this for you as an adult/parent/caregiver) to easily access materials, toys or self care items like outer wear and clothing with the ability to return them to an 'identified' home without confusion is extremely valuable, and can change how a person feels about the environment they are in and interacting with.

Our bead chains are located in bins now, and I will show you how this works for us.

This bucket houses individual containers (to easily contain and carry each item) for the hundred chain, thousand chain, hundred squares, counters, and simple packets of arrows
 that are separated for use.
The containers and bin are from the dollar store.

The arrows we use are from our printable package. We purchased a complete set of arrows to accompany our bead chains and sadly the print was very small, black and difficult for the kids to see.
Ours are colour coded to the beads with borders to save a bit of ink, and the font is much larger. 
This made a world of difference especially for Xander. You can make your own as well.

 I also found it useful (for our children) to keep all of the arrows separated by 10's (in this case). The value of laying out the arrows in sequence is still utilized, but in sections. 
My children found it frustrating to organize the entire group of arrows before use. 

There are arrows to count the first bar,
 thus establishing and reinforcing the order of numbers 1-10. 
The arrows are then organized by 10's, with a larger arrow that denotes the square when reached.

What does this really mean...

One Hundred Chain:
The child counts to 10 labelling the beads with arrows as she/he goes along establishing the order of numbers one through 10 (or whatever chain they happen to be using).

The child continues to count the following ten bars and labelling it by 10's.

When the child reaches the end of the 100 chain, there will be a larger arrow with 100 printed on it.
This number is the square of ten 10 x 10 =100.

When finished the child can fold the bead chain to physically form a square, and overlay a 100 sq to see and verify the result for themselves.

One Thousand Chain:
The procedure is exactly the same as the start of the 100 chain.

The child continues to count and label the tens and squares to the end reaching 1000.

This chain can also be folded to form the squares, but it is the squares placed above the chain - each time a square is formed - that can be stacked beside the 1000 cube to physically see and explore the actual cube of the number.

This is a big job!

This is an early introduction to squaring and cubing.
ALL of the other chains - short chains (squaring), and long (cubing) are worked the same way.

Full lessons if needed are available online for free, and also in manuals. 

I created arrows by hand for the kids to randomly label numbers in the chain.
They had great fun with this!

Please feel free to share your work 
with the Golden Beads with us!



I greatly appreciate your friendly comments and feedback. I love to see what others are making, so please feel free to include a links and share your site with us!!! If you have any questions regarding any of the materials we have made...I'd love to help!!! Thank you for visiting us:)



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