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Montessori Material Making: Bead Bars

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

We are excited to guide you through the process of creating your own set of Montessori Bead Bars—a vibrant and educational tool used in Montessori classrooms to teach mathematical concepts. These bead bars, available in varying lengths and colors, ingeniously represent numbers 1 through 10. Each number is associated with a specific color, aiding children in comprehending and visualizing mathematical operations.

These Bead Bars are initially introduced to children in the Primary age group (3-6 years) but can be

utilized through elementary; and adolescence to explore more complex algebraic concepts.

Whether purchased or handmade, this material is a worthwhile investment due to its longevity and versatility.

A word of caution: While children can engage in this activity as an extension work, it's crucial to supervise them as the tools involved can be dangerous. Additionally, due to small parts, children who are still very sensorial should not handle these without adult supervision to avoid choking hazards and other potential risks.

Now, let's talk supplies. You have the flexibility to utilize items readily available at home or make a trip to your local craft store. I'll provide options for each supply, and you can find the detailed list in the description. If you use our affiliate link, you'll be supporting us, and we genuinely appreciate it.

For the beads, I opted for 8 mm acrylic faceted beads. Feel free to vary the size or use what you have around, such as pony beads. The crucial aspect here is color accuracy, and a rainbow pack conveniently covers all the necessary colors. A 500-bead pack is ample for a complete set.

Here's your color guide:

  • Red represents 1

  • Green represents 2

  • Pink represents 3

  • Yellow represents 4

  • Light blue represents 5

  • Purple represents 6

  • White represents 7

  • Brown represents 8

  • Dark blue represents 9

  • Gold represents 10

For the wire, I chose aluminum wire designed for jewelry making, but floral wire or pipe cleaners are suitable alternatives.

Tools needed: Wire cutter and Needle-nose pliers (or a two-in-one option). If using pipe cleaners, children's safety scissors and your fingers will suffice.

Optional supplies include a bead storage box and number/symbol tickets. You can craft these tickets from craft foam cut into 1 x 1 in squares, but you can also find a printable version on our Teachers Pay Teachers storefront page.

Let's get started:

  1. Sort beads by color.

  2. String beads onto the wire.

  3. Cut wire with the wire cutter.

  4. Make loops on the ends with needle-nose pliers, straightening them out to ensure safety.

  5. Create as many bead bars as needed for each number.

  6. Store them in your bead storage box, ready to be placed on your math shelves.

If you want additional support in this project from a video, you can click here to see how these are made.

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