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How Montessori Teaches Math – Montessori Tens Board Lesson


Let’s take a detailed look into teaching math using the Montessori Tens Board. The tens board in Montessori aims to teach linear counting. The lesson comes after the Montessori Teens Board lesson in the Montessori Math sequence. You can purchase a reasonably priced set on Amazon.

Montessori Tens Board Lesson

Learn how to teach using Montessori Ten Boards

Tens Board Presentation I – Introduction to Quantity

Ten Board Lesson Collage
  • Bring the math material to a work mat – the unit beads & ten bars, the ten board, and the teen board
  • Ask the child:  “Do you remember what this is? Yes, it is ten.”
  • Slide the bar to the left of the mat.
  • Place 2 ten bars side by side in the middle: “What do we have here? Yes, two tens. Two tens are twenty. This is ten, and this is twenty.”
  • Slide the bars over near the ten bar leaving a small space between them.
  • Lay 3 ten bars in front of you: “ten, twenty, and thirty. Three tens make thirty.” Slight over to the right of twenty.
  • Review the names with a 3-period lesson.
  • Introduce the rest of the quantities in this manner, decreasing repetition of the early quantities as the child retains them. Involve the child more often: “What do you think we should get out next? Can you count that out?”
  • Play mix-up and hiding games to reinforce and make the work fun.

Related Lesson: Learn Composition of Quantities Montessori Math Lesson

Presentation II – Introduction to Symbols with Tens Board

  • Invite the child to learn the symbols for tens. Spread the mat and boards in the same manner as the teen boards.
  • Be seated on one side with the child seated on the other.
  • Point to ten: “Do you remember what this is? Yes, it is ten.”
  • Point to 20: “Do you remember what this is? Yes, it is 20. Can you say 20?”
  • Point to 30: “Do you remember what this is? Yes, it is 30. Can you say 30?”
  • Complete a three-period lesson on each symbol.
  • Continue introducing symbols and reviewing old ones. Check the child’s knowledge of the symbols. No need to give a lesson if the child already knows the symbol.  Proceed to associate quantity when the child is ready.

Presentation III – Association of Quantity and Symbol

  • Invite the child, spread out the mat, and set out boards. Place bead bars at the upper left.
  • Ask the child to read the top numeral and place a ten bar next to it. Continue placing quantities and reading quantities.
  • Try to have the child do most of the work. To reinforce, mix up the ten bars and have the child reorder.

Presentation IV – Counting to 99

  • Invite a child to learn how to count to 99.
  • Spread mat, get materials, and arrange as in previous presentations.
  • Put a ten bar to the left of the ten: “This is ten.”
  • Place the ten bar next to ten on the board.ten_boards_99_11_12_13_19
  • Put one bead beside the ten bar: “This is eleven. Will you count the beads with me?” Slide the numeral one over the zero: “This is how we write eleven.”
  • Place a second unit under the 1st: “This is twelve. Let’s count to twelve.”
  • Slide the numeral two over the zero: “This is how we write twelve.”
  • Place the third unit under the 2nd: “This is thirteen. Let’s count to thirteen.”
  • Slide the numeral three over the zero: “This is how we write thirteen.”
  • Continue adding units and changing symbols.
  • The child should take over at some point.
  • When you get to 19, ask the child what comes next: “Twenty comes next.”
  • Pick up the units and place them in their container. Place another ten bar to the right of the first ten bar, touching it: “This is twenty. This is how we write twenty.”

 Place a unit next to the right of the tens: “This is twenty-one.”


Continue in this manner up to 99. This may take a few days. Allow the child to take breaks.

The control of error for Montessori tens board is the teacher or another child. Additionally, matching the number of beads to the numeral. 

Additional Montessori Ten and Teen Bead Resources

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