Every Montessori material aims to make children learn through hands-on experiences. Dr. Maria Montessori, who founded the Montessori method of education, believed that when children use their hands in learning, they tend to develop a superior level of personality and intelligence.
Montessori materials implement this principle of education into children’s learning, allowing them to explore and learn.
They engage children to develop and refine their senses.
Montessori Spindle Box is one such Montessori material.
What is a Montessori Spindle Box
It is an early Montessori Math material that contains wooden spindles without any markings or colors. The Montessori spindles are long wooden sticks kept in a rectangular wooden box.
Spindle Boxes introduce the Numeration concept through Montessori Math activity. In this, the child has to visually identify a written number and match the number of spindles to that number on the board.
- The Montessori Spindle Box consists of two wooden boxes with five compartments. The numbers 0-9 are printed in sequence at the back of the compartments.
- The first box contains compartments for numbers 0-4, and the second box has numbers 5-9.
- The Montessori Spindle Box has 45 spindles.
- It may have ribbons, elastics, or pipe cleaners to bind the spindles.
The child counts the spindles and arranges them in the compartments, as per the numbers.
This activity engages the child’s tactile, visual, muscular, kinesthetic, and basic senses.
It helps to develop order, concentration, and hand-eye coordination in children.
This practical method is a fun and innovative way to infuse logical thinking in the child that helps them to understand math concepts better.
How is Montessori Spindle Box presented to children?
Before introducing it, ensure that the child must be familiar with the written numerals.
The steps below represent the introduction of the Montessori Spindle Box to the children.
- Carry the boxes and lay the spindles on the table or mat.
- The teacher may start by introducing the concept of zero. She points to the symbol on the back of the box and tells the child, “This is called zero. This is how we write zero. Zero means nothing, so we do not put anything in the zero compartments.”
- The teacher points to the numeral “1” and asks the child to read it. The child answers “One.”
- The teacher then asks the child to put one spindle in that compartment.
- The teacher then points to 2 and asks the child to read them. Then she asks the child to count and place two spindles in the compartment.
- The child can continue this up to 4.
- Similarly, the teacher asks the child to place the correct number of spindles in the remaining compartments till all nine spindles are completed.
- As all the spindles are correctly placed, the teacher looks at compartment 0 and tells, ”This is zero. Zero means nothing. That is why there is nothing in this place.”
- As the child completes the exercise, the teacher asks the child to return the spindles to their place in the box one by one.
- Then, they place the boxes back on the shelf.
Once the child understands the exercise, the teacher can encourage him to work independently.
When the child has difficulty in any step, the teacher can guide the child.
Binding the Spindles
Binding the spindles are required as it emphasizes that the number of spindles counted is a set. After binding all the spindles, the teacher can ask the child to observe each bunch.
The teacher can then introduce the child to the concept of weight. The child can compare each set and comment on whether it is heavier or lighter than the other set, like a set of seven spindles weighing heavier than two spindles.
They can also understand the space occupied by different sets.
The child can enjoy doing this activity after the initial presentation by the teacher.
Purpose of Montessori Spindle Box
- To learn to count the numbers 0-9 in sequence.
- To develop an understanding of corresponding quantities with the numerals.
- To introduce the concept of zero.
- To prepare children for the decimal system.
Control Of Error
All Montessori materials have a built-in activity to self-correct. It helps the children to complete their exercises independently.
The Montessori Spindle Box has 45 spindles and the sum of the numbers 1 to 9 is 45. It has the exact number of spindles for the exercise.
If there are any short or leftover spindles after the exercise is over, the child gets to know if something went wrong.
At the end of the activity, there should be no spindles left over or short. If there is a mistake in counting, there will be insufficient or extra spindles.
The child can realize his mistake and work independently to rectify the counting. They do not need adult support in correcting their mistakes.
It helps to build his confidence. The child becomes self-aware, and the reward for correcting the error is intrinsic to him.
Appropriate for Age for activity with Spindel Boxes
Children who are four years or older can do this activity with the Montessori Spindle Box.
Where can you buy Montessori Spindle Boxes?
Making Montessori Spindle Boxes at home
Although they are available at reasonable prices, one of the best things about a spindle box is making your own at home with sticks, pipe cleaners, straws, etc.
The variations and extensions of objects make the work interesting.
- You can make a spindle box with two cardboard boxes and wood dividers fixed with glue in place. You can use popsicle sticks for spindles.
- You can use ice cube trays having ten compartments as your Montessori Spindle Box. Even if the trays do not have ten compartments, you can still practice quantifying numbers with any number of compartments.
- Another way of making a spindle box is using toilet paper rolls. You can save the toilet paper rolls at your home and make a spindle box out of it in two ways.
To create a traditional Montessori Spindle Box, you can cut rolls in half longways and tape ten rolls together to form the compartments. You can use straws as the counters.
Another way is to tape rolls together and make them stand on end. Your child can drop straws into them from the top.
Children will enjoy these activities with the Montessori Spindle Box. It is a great way to engage the children and make them learn math concepts with fun. It will be worth the investment if you plan to make one.