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Preschool: Spindle Boxes

“One, two, three, four…five!” a child proudly counted five spindles, one at a time into her hand and placed them in the box. She proceeded with the remainder of the spindles. The child demonstrated excellent focus and completed the work just as it had been presented. This popular math material includes two boxes, each with five compartments along with a box of 45 spindles. At the back of each compartment is a black numeral, starting from zero and progressing up to nine.

The material has several purposes. Not only does the child learn the natural sequence of the numerals but also clarifies the idea that the symbols represent a certain quantity of separate objects. The child can feel in her hands that holding one spindle feels much different than holding nine spindles. The material also introduces the concept of zero and it’s symbol. She learns that the zero compartment remains empty because “zero means none.” Similar to many of the Montessori math materials, if there are too many or too few spindles, the child knows she has made an error somewhere along the way.

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