Blocks & Beads
DIY Montessori Spindle Box
Updated: Jan 8, 2022
How do you make a Montessori spindle box? A quick search on Pinterest, and you will see an overwhelming variety of ideas on how to DIY (make, or print) your own. Knowing the core elements of a good Montessori material can help you decide which options stay true to the philosophy, and which ones just make a cute pin! Read on to find out how to make or print a spindle box that incorporates all essential elements of the Montessori philosophy!
One of the hallmarks of any authentic Montessori material, especially for early chilhood, is that the hand is in actively engaged. Dr. Montessori discovered that young children learn through movement and the use of the hand. The spindle box is a perfect example of this.
With this material, children do not simply touch shapes on a printed page, they physically move objects to count them (p.s. they don't have to be wooden spindles to be considered Montessori)! The spindle box also embodies several other characteristics of Montessori, including the control of error, there are exactly 45 spindles. None will be left over when the child is done, and there should be exactly enough objects to fill each of the slots. There is a simple, yet attractive design, with no distracting elements. For example, in a good DIY spindle box, there are no multi-colored plastic bear counters, rainbow numbers or different sized legos or rocks in place of the spindles! Finally, the material focuses on only one concept: matching a loose quantity of objects, to a fixed set of sequenced numerals. With this design element, children do not have to remember the order of the numerals (that is a different lesson), rather what quantity each represents, thus freeing up mental energy to focus on counting! I almost forgot, in the genious of Montessori, there is a slot for zero. When the child is done using the material, they will usually ask why the "0" slot is empty. That is when you simply say, "that is zero, it means nothing." You might also wonder why the spindle box ends at nine. In the base ten system, ten represents a regrouping, or exchange to the next place value column. Children discover this in lessons using the golden beads!
Now that you know what elements make a Montessori spindle box all that is left is to decide if you want to gather materials from around the house or classroom, and make your own, or print one. CLICK HERE to grab a free printable spindle box that you can download and use now! Just remember, you need 45 simple, small objects of all the same color and size! I like to use single lego bricks, or beads. One clever mom commented that she used stamps from the stamp game as objects and her kiddos loved it!
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