Learning Numbers

Montessori method for Preschool Math

Most kids love counting numbers. They count from 123... up to ten very efficiently, though often, they just rattle them without much understanding.. Montessori has an ideal and effective way of teaching children math through a manipulative called the “Number Rod”. This math lesson plans provides concrete visual aid and introduces logic as a child experiences interactive learning. A teacher or parent may use this method to help kids count with understanding as part of preschool activities or even before entering preschool.

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  • 1 piece of floor mat (1 metre by ½ metre)

  • 10 wooden rods varying in length by 1 decimetre. The first rod is 1 decimetre long and the 10th rod is 10 decimeters (1 metre). The rods are coloured alternately red and blue in bands (or strips) of 1 decimetre. The first rod is red, the second rod is re-lue, the third rod is red-blue-red, etc.

  • 1 set of numeral cards (1 to 10)

  • To introduce the child to count 123 up to 10 using whole quantities, eg 3, as a whole.
  • To make the child aware of the quantitative relationship eg 2 is more than 1 and 3 is more than 2, etc
  • To make the child aware of the sequence 1 to 10 (if the stair is correctly built, the numbers will automatically be in the correct order)
  • To make the child aware of the concept as an aggregate of 1’s (eg. The child can check this by counting the rods)
  • To associate the correct numeral and match them with each Rod


  • If the stair is correctly built the child will be able to name the rods from 1 to 10.


  • 123……. to Ten, Number rods, numeral cards, quantity, count


  • 4 – 4 ½ yrs onwards

This may be a group or individual activity.

Exercise One

  1. Lay a floor mat
  2. Carry the rods vertically with both hands – to the work place (mat)
  3. Place the rods randomly on the mat
  4. With the rod, build up a stair starting with the longest rod at the top
  5. Repeat the process till kids can build the stair adequately

Exercise Two

  1. Lay the Rods randomly on the work mat (towards the left side)
  2. Lay out the Cards at random towards the right side
  3. Ask the child to look for a Rod eg. “The Quantity Five” rod
  4. Count the sections on the rod to ensure it is the correct rod
  5. Place the card “5” at the right end of the rod
  6. Proceed to another rod and match randomly

  • Begin with the Rod
  • Begin with the Cards
  • Begin by calling out a number (from abstract to concrete)
  • Built the Number Rods in sequence and match the Numeral Cards

Other Creative Counting Ideas

  • Use a dice and numeral cards (1 – 6)
  • Use counters (bottle caps, candies, lego blocks…etc) and numeral cards
  • Use sticks and stones with numeral cards
  • Use actions
  • Use everyday objects
  • Use colors around the house or school
  • Observe outdoor items – buses, cars, traffic lights, etc

Have A Great Story About Your Math Lessons?

What struggles or success stories do you have with your Math experience as you teach preschool kids? Share it!

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See Also:

Write and Draw Worksheets

Math Worksheets

Math Readiness - Preschool preparation for Math

Math Lesson Plans - Montessori Method

Learn curriculum goals for preschool math education when you visit www.sensible-math-education.com. Written by a 17-year math educator, you'll find lots of ideas for math activities that will give your class a strong foundation in their math education.

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