These math beads are inspired by the Montessori Bead Material. The idea of the Bead Material is to help children understand numbers (particularly units, tens, hundreds and thousands), to quantify, to create complex numbers (3, 4, 5- digit numbers), as well as understand that each category is ten times larger than the previous; 10 is ten times larger than one, 100 is ten times larger than 10 and so on.

These math beads were really easy to make. All you need is:

• wire – I used 3 inch headpins but you can use any wire. 3 inches fits ten small beads nicely
• beading pliers – or a pair of small pliers

I wanted my son Jack to be able to create 2 and 3-digit numbers, add and do simple multiplication so in our set I made:

• 2 sets of 1-9 beads
• 30 sets of 10 beads

Montessori Bead Materials also have 100-bead boards and 1000-bead cubes. That’s a lot more work, but the 10-bead strings are really simple and meet our needs for now.

These wonderful math manipulatives have so many opportunities for learning. You can:

Work on multiplication.

Skip count by twos or threes or…

tens.

And create complex numbers.

You could also use the math beads for working on fractions; so many possibilities. So why not make a set. They are really simple. You can pick up beads fairly cheaply at the dollar store and before you know it you’ll have a beautiful set of math manipulatives that you can continue to add to as your child’s understanding grows..