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Static Addition with Golden Beads in Montessori

By Andrea Coventry

The initial addition presentation in Montessori is static addition, which is done with the golden beads.

Definition of Terms and Materials

The golden beads are similar to the base ten blocks used in other programs. The thousand cube has 1000 beads. The hundred square has 100 beads. The ten bar has 10 beads. And the unit bead solely consists of one individual bead.

Static addition means that quantities being added require no carrying over or exchanging. Sums of digits are never higher than 9.

Purpose of Static Addition with Golden Beads

Montessori method dictates that children are taught concepts concretely, before being expected to memorize abstract facts. The static addition with the Montessori golden beads allows children to physically manipulate materials to see how adding means numbers and quantities become larger. This activity lays the foundation for later dynamic addition (which involves exchanging) and memorization of math facts.

Prior Learning Required

The child who is receiving the static addition lesson should have previously worked with the golden beads and forty-five layout, creating and reading quantities from 1-9999.

Math Activities for Kindergarten: Required Materials for Static Addition

  • Large work rug
  • A "bank" of golden bead materials, consisting of at least 9 thousand cubes, 9 hundred squares, 9 ten bars, and 9 unit beads.
  • Two wooden trays for carrying the golden beads between the rug and the shelf
  • Set of small numeral cards labeled 1-9 for units, 10-90 for tens, 100-900 for hundreds, and 1000-9000 for thousands
  • Set of large numeral cards labeled as above
  • Signs depicting the + and = signs

Math Activities for Kindergarten: The Montessori Presentation

  1. Invite the children to the work rug for a lesson on static addition. Ask two of them to get quantities from the bank, each one using a tray to carry his quantity. These quantities, when added together, should not require exchanging. For example, one child could be asked to get 2154, and the other to get 6724. Label each tray with the corresponding numeral cards.
  2. The two sets of golden beads can be gently dumped onto the rug. Then they should be sorted out, with thousands to the left and units to the right.
  3. Tell the children that you will start counting with the units. Count the units, then find the corresponding large card. In this example, there would be eight, so the large 8 card would be placed below the set of unit beads. Continue this procedure with the tens, hundreds, and thousands. A total quantity representing 8878 should now be below the golden beads, with the corresponding large numeral cards.
  4. Reinforce what just happened by using the cards that are still on the tray. Say, "We added 2154 to 6724" as you lay the numerals out, one above the other. Introduce the plus sign as you place it next to the second numeral. Then say, "We got a sum of 8878" as you lay the large numeral cards after the equal sign. Introduce the equal sign.

Math Activities for Kindergarten: Independent Follow-Up Activities

Children should be permitted to follow-up the presentation with independent practice. Cards with static addition problems can be in an envelope on the shelf. Show children how to write out the problems onto paper with grids for proper spacing.

When the child becomes more proficient with the exercise, allow her to try to add quantities that have a 0, such as 4305. Other later work can include three or four quantities, such as 1243 + 5341 + 2415. Smaller quantities can also be added, such as 423 + 564 or 56 + 21, to practice addition with smaller numbers.