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Make Learning Fun with Montessori Number Rods: Get Your Printable Now!


If you’ve started your child’s early math education with Montessori materials, you’re likely already familiar with the versatility of the number rods. These simple wooden sticks have powered countless hours of engaging, self-directed math exploration for curious preschoolers around the world.

Beyond just counting and one-to-one correspondence, number rods introduce young learners to concepts like addition, subtraction, and place value in a multi-sensory format that taps into their natural tendency to learn through hands-on experimentation.

In this post, I wanted to share some of my favorite ways to introduce the number rods to young children just starting out on their mathematical journey. Whether you’re using them at home or in your preschool classroom, these fundamental Montessori materials can provide rich learning opportunities to spark an early love of numbers.

Montessori Number Rods and Numerals

The Montessori Number Rods & Numerals lesson is part of the Introduction to Numeration section within Math. This lesson comes after the Number Rods and Sandpaper Numerals lessons.

What are the Montessori Number Rods and Numerals?

Montessori Number Rods and Numerals are educational materials used in the Montessori method of teaching mathematics to young children.

The Montessori Math Number Rods consist of a set of ten wooden rods, typically varying in length from 10 cm to 1 meter. Each rod is painted in a different color and is associated with a specific numerical value.

The rods are typically arranged from shortest to longest, and they provide a concrete and visual representation of the concept of quantity and length. Children can physically manipulate the rods, compare their lengths, and order them, helping them develop a sense of number magnitude and spatial relationships.

The Montessori Math Numerals complement the Number Rods by providing numerical symbols (digits) that correspond to the quantities represented by the rods. These numerals are typically made of wood or another tactile material, and they allow children to match the numerical symbols to the appropriate Number Rods.

This activity helps children make a connection between the abstract symbols of numbers and the concrete representations of quantity provided by the rods.

Both the Montessori Math Number Rods and Numerals aim to provide a multisensory and hands-on approach to introducing mathematical concepts to young children. By engaging with these materials, children can develop foundational math skills such as number recognition, counting, ordering, and understanding numerical relationships.

The Montessori approach encourages children to explore and discover mathematical concepts at their own pace while using concrete materials that support their learning process.


Invite the child to do the work. Get a mat and spread it on the floor.

Montessori Number Rods & Numerals Lesson

Presentation I

  • With the child’s help, carry the rods, one at a time, to the mat.
  • Place them in mixed array. Have the child construct the stair, leaving room at the bottom of the mat.
  • Take out the numerals. Arrange in mixed order at the bottom of the mat.
  • Review the symbol names with the child and introduce the ten
  • “Now let’s put the numerals with the rods that have the same quantity.”
  • Count the one rod: “One. Which numeral do we need here?”
  • The child locates the one numeral, hands it to me and I place it standing up leaning again the one rod. Count the two rod.
  • Proceed in a similar manner.
  • Allow the child to take over as much as he wishes to do so. If there is a problem, simply ask if I can have a turn.
  • When all the numerals are in place, read them and then ask the child to read them.
  • Turn the numerals over and play “Knock, Knock”. The child identifies the numerals and places it leaning up against the correct rod

Presentation II

  • The child places the rods in random order on a mat and the numerals are upside down in random order on a second mat
  • Knock on the back of the numeral. The child identifies it and places it on the correct rod.  Repeat the same approach through ten.

Download Materials for this Lesson

Number Rods & Numerals Extension & Variations

  • Fetch game
  • Randomly array rods on the mat. Ask the child to find the longest rod. Count the segments. Find the numeral that goes with it.
  • Ask the child to find the next longest rod and the numeral that goes with it. Ask the child which rod could we place with the 9 rods to give us 10. And so on.
  • Mystery number with two children. One child gets a secret numeral and counts objects to match the numeral. The other child counts the objects and finds the rod to match the secret numeral.
  • See examples from the Number Rods lesson

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