What You Need to Know About the Early Childhood Montessori Math Materials

Sunday, August 6, 2017

I adore Montessori math materials and how it enables the child to experience the true meaning of quantity and numbers.  Montessori math is not just about memorization, counting and abstraction, its main goal is to build a relationship between the child and the materials, learning with ease and enjoying the work through engaging activities.  I own most of the Montessori math early childhood, and starting to collect the elementary for my oldest child.  They’re quite pricey, but worth it. On how to use these materials, I have albums from The Montessori Parent, Cultivating Dharma and Garden of Francis, and I also administer other extension activities that I could think of (I love doing this!).

What You Need to Know About the Early Child Montessori Math Materials

There are a LOT of Montessori math materials, and it’s quite confusing for parents who are just starting.  Aside from their purpose and functionality, I often get questions like what materials should be used first? What’s the curriculum? Where can I get these materials?  How is the material being used?  So to help parents, here’s early childhood Montessori math in a nutshell!

Montessori math materials for early childhood is divided into five categories.  They are grouped according to their functionality.  Now, there is no math curriculum in Montessori but 'ALBUMS', which will guide you on how to use these materials in order, but often the order is not that crucial because in Montessori, we follow the child.

GROUP 1: Introduction to Numbers

Early Child Montessori Math Materials Group 1

These are the Montessori math materials that introduces the child to the fundamental components of mathematics like the units of quantity from zero to ten.  The materials in this group include:
You can further extend the use of these materials as you wish (referred to as extension activities).

GROUP 2: Introduction to Decimal System

Early Child Montessori Math Materials Group 2

These materials introduces the child to the decimal system by giving them tangible experience.  This is usually given to the child once he can count or truly understands the concept of 1 to 9 and zero.  Materials in this group include:

GROUP 3: Tens, Teens and Linear Counting

Early Child Montessori Math Materials Group 3

These materials are for counting beyond 10. This group introduces the teen numbers and the tens.  Once the child is comfortable with these, he/she is then allowed to do linear and skip counting using the bead materials.

GROUP 4:  Arithmetic Tables

Early Child Montessori Math Materials Group 4

These materials demonstrate addition, subtraction, the relationships in multiplication and division.  The child is encouraged to record the results of the operations in tables to aid memorization (unconsciously memorizing!).
  • Addition strips
  • Subtraction strips
  • Multiplication charts or beads or board
  • Division charts or beads or board
  • Snake Games

GROUP 5: Passage to Abstraction

Early Child Montessori Math Materials Group 5

These materials help the child transition from tangible materials to abstraction. They will gradually disregard the physical manipulatives. This is where the learning of the child in the previous groups combine to solve arithmetics up to a millions.  This group act as a bridge to abstraction, wherein the child is able to solve problems without any of the pyhsical materials.  Included in this group are the following:
  • Hierarchy of numbers
  • Small bead frame
  • Large Bead frame


The images of Montessori materials are all from Nienhuis.  You can purchase these from their website or from Absorbent Minds UK (where I purchased some of my materials).


  1. I know we should follow the child, but what ages did you start using these approximately? So I can plan my purchases in advance - as you say, these are quite pricey. We already have all from the first group and have started with the coloured beads, but what about the others?

    1. I started using traditional materials when my youngest was approaching 3 years old. We have most of the items here, some are DIY especially the charts, dots. Skipped the hierarchy materials as they are quite pricey and I can make a DIY. I can't really say to buy one in each group, no, because most of them go with the other especially in extension activities. Like in golden beads, you need to have the number cards as well.