The golden bead material is a Montessori material first used in Primary to introduce the concept of the decimal system. The children are able to see and sensorially experience the different categories of the unit, the ten, the hundred, and the thousand. This material appeals to this stage of development because the children are able to physically see the difference and feel the weight of the different categories. The children are then introduced to the symbols or numerals, and this material is used to teach all four mathematical operations.

Performing operations with the golden bead material allows children to see the quantities and visualize the process of the different operations – putting the addends together to find the sum in addition, sharing the dividend out equally to find the quotient in division. They are also physically able to exchange units for tens, tens for hundreds, etc. to actually experience the carrying and borrowing process. The golden bead material allows the students to visualize large numbers as well as see the geometrical representation of the three members of each family – units, tens, and hundreds. This amazing material is used all the way through Upper Elementary as students explore divisibility and squaring.

By regularly working with the golden bead material, students gain a deep and lasting impression of our base 10 number system that will serve them well as they move on to higher level mathematics and perhaps even explore number systems with other bases!

By Liana Oram, Head of School

Meet the Material: The Golden Beads

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