Kiddo did a huge progress in reading, so I decided we need to do a math activity for a change. And I had an epiphany: why not use LEGO bricks to make manipulatives. So, here you are: "Golden beads" activity made of LEGO single bricks. By the way, many non-Montessori schools use similar counting activities using math rods.
There are a lot of activities that you can do with them:
- counting. 1_2_3...9 (on single beads, then goes a 10-bar) 11_12... etc.
- count by 10.
- make up 2-digit numbers: first ask a child to make a number for you; when she's comfortable with that ask her to "read" a number you made. Then you can mix the rods with the decimal number cards to teach the child the formation of complex numbers and the matching quantity. These activities also form an impression of the hierarchy of numbers, place value, and the role of zero in determining place value.
- adding numbers without carrying over: for example here's how you do 11+12=?
make 11 (one 10-bar and one single bead) , make 12 next to it. Add 10-bars = two 10-bars = 20. Add single beads = three beads = 3. Make up the number = 23. This makes addition very concrete for small kids.
-same for subtraction.
-addition with carrying over is a bit more complex but it's also do-able. But I like using plain sticks for this.