Once the child has gone through the sequence we call the "first five" of the Montessori maths materials, we move onto other aspects of math. The first five helps the child understand the concepts of 1:1 correspondence, the idea of zero and matching the symbol to the quantity of 1-10. One of the directions to go is to introduce the Short Bead Stair. This helps to reinforce the quantities 1-9 and to prepare the child for the operations of addition and subtraction. Many works are completed to familiarize the child with the short bead stair and the children enjoy working with the beautiful colorful beads.
We place a set of beads and the child counts with their fingertip or the tip of a pencil. They then write the number in the first slot. For some, as they can be only three, they need help writing so we use a dotted stamp for them to trace. For most, they love to stamp the numeral too. We then place the second addend on the green felt. They count this as well and write the number. We then show them how to put the beads together and add up with the fingertip or a pencil and write the "sum" in the box.
This is an example of how the Montessori math materials progress from concrete to abstraction in a specific sequence. The children really enjoy this activity and ask for it when they come to school. Many tell us, "I want to do math!"