Zhana has mastered being able to visually recognize numbers 1-10 and is able to count to 10. Therefore, the next step for us is counting actual objects. Montessori Spindle Boxes help to teach the meaning of zero and that numbers can represent quantity of objects.
Making a spindle box was really quite easy. I simply used one plastic tub. I chose a tub part of a 3-tier set, as I liked the idea of it having a set place and I plan on using the other 2 tubs for additional Montessori activities. I think I finally figured out a way to store our school learning materials. I have priced the low shelves that wrap around a room and all I’ve seen are several hundred dollars. I think I’ll buy these tubs as needed and stack them on top of each other. At SuperFunMama we do Montessori the poor mans way, lol.
After choosing the tub, I took 2 pieces of foam, cut it down to fit the spindle box and wrote out the numbers 0-9. Next, I cut strips of cardboard to fit the plastic tub. I used strips from a clean Pizza box. Using a hot glue gun, I glued them to the bottom of the plastic tub. Next, I added popsicle sticks to be used as the counters. Mine obviously isn’t as pretty, but it does the job. In my defense, it doesn’t look as bad in person as it does in the photo. I think it has to do with the view I took the photo from.
So…my spindle box was FREE. Even if I hadn’t had any of the materials it would have been very cheap. Online I priced Spindle boxes at $50.00!
Homemade Montessori Box
Okay, so you’ve made your Spindle Box. Now, we’ll cover how to use the Spindle Box.
- Have the compartments empty of the popsicle sticks.
- Sit in front of the spindle box with your child.
- Point out the number zero to your child and briefly explain it such as "This is zero. This is how we write zero. Zero means 'nothing,' so we do not put anything in this compartment."
- As you go through each spindle, ask the child what the number is that you are pointing to. Once you have a correct response, have your child place the correct number of popsicle sticks into the compartments.
- Your child should now do the exercise alone. Your child can do this exercise alone and will be able to check their work, according to if they have enough spindles to fill all of the compartments correctly.
Here is a link to a fantastic explanation of how to use Spindle Boxes:
I have found a few extensions of the Spindle Box such as placing the wrong amount in compartments and having your child spot the mistake and feeling/counting spindles with eyes closed.
Once the spindle box is mastered, children can move on to other counting exercises. Remember, never use toys to count in Montessori. If objects are used as both play items and in counting, they are less likely to be seen as a symbol (DeLoache, 2000).
The Zero Game
(See 'Discovery of the Child' Maria Montessori p.269-270)
The parent asks a child to come towards her 'zero' times. If the child comes toward you say, "But I asked you to come 'zero' times…Zero is nothing… you must stay still and do nothing! You must not move. You must not come even once. 'Zero' means no times at all!"
When the child begins to understand, the parent asks the child to do other activities zero times such as blowing kisses. Then the parent teases the child a bit such as saying, “Why are you sitting still? I asked for zero kisses.” The child may explain “Zero means nothing, so I didn’t blow you any kisses.” The adult may then reply, “Oh I see, zero means nothing.”
**I’ll be having 2 posts today.