Montessori AMI Primary Guide
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Numbers through Ten
  Number Rods
  Sandpaper Numbers
  Number Rods and Cards
  Spindle Boxes
  Concept of Zero
  Cards and Counters
  Memory Game
Decimal System
  Introduction to quantity
  Formation of Numbers
  Stamp Game
  Dot Game
  Word Problems
Linear & Skip Counting
  Teens: Quanity
  Teens: Symbol
  Tens: Association
  Linear Counting
  Skip Counting
  Number Roll
Tables of Arithmetic
  Addition Snake Game
  Strip Board - exercises
  Addition Strip Board
  Addition Charts
  Substraction Snake Game
  Substraction Strip Board
  Substraction Charts
  Multiplication Bead
  Multiplication Board
  Multiplication Charts
  Unit Division Board
  Division Charts
Passage to Abstraction
  Small Bead Frame
  Wooden Hierarchical Material
  Large Bead Frame
  Racks and Tubes

Spindle Boxes


- Two boxes exactly the same, each with five compartments. At the back of each compartment is painted a symbol in black, starting from 0 and progressing serially up to 9.
- A container with 45 spindles
- A container with 8 ribbons or elastic bands


  1. Introduce the child to the materials on the shelf and have him bring them over to the table.
  2. Point out the compartments and the numerals the child knows. Point to them all, one at a time, and have the child give the number’s names.
  3. Tell the child that these numbers will tell us how many spindles to put in the box.
  4. Point to the number 1. Have the child read it and then say, “We will put 1 spindle in this box.”
  5. Place one spindle in the compartment.
  6. Repeat for 2, counting the spindles as you place them, “One, two.” Continue this up to 4.

  8. Have the child place the correct spindles in the remaining compartments.
  9. Once all of the spindles have been placed, look at compartment 0 and notice that there is nothing in it.
  10. Say, “This is zero. Zero means nothing. That is why there is nothing in this spot.
  11. Have the child take out the two spindles from container 2. Have him do this one by one and count as he does so.
  12. Have the child tie a rubber band around the two spindles and replace them in the 2 slot.
  13. Repeat for the other spindles.
  14. Then take out the 1 spindle and place it gently back into the basket.
  15. Take out the other spindles group by group, and after taking off the rubber bands, place them one by one (counting as the child does this) back into the basket.
  16. Ask the child why there was no spindle in the 0 container.
  17. Have the child replace the material on the shelf.


The spindles clarify the idea that the symbols represent a certain quantity of separate objects.
To introduce the concept of zero and its symbol.
To reinforce the natural sequence of the numerals.

To reinforce the idea that there are no other symbols other than 0
to 9.

Control of Error
If the counting has been incorrect, at the end there will be either
an insufficient number of spindles or some left over.

4 years onwards (after the child has worked with the number rods and cards)

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