Monday, May 21, 2012

Problem with the Short Bead Chain arrangement

As many of you know purchasing the Bead Chains is one of the most expensive affairs in your Montessori homeschool.  So I bought only the Short bead chains and squares (awesome price at Caliber Montessori), no box, no cabinet or wall stand.  I did not get the long bead chains for two reasons.  One being that I was not sure whether D would have the patience to work through those and the other being the price.  I am still not sure whether I should buy the long chains, but that is another story for later.  Coming back to the problem of the Short bead chains, I should have either bought the box or the wall stand.  Here is why.  I had originally set it up in a tray like this.

The chains in the bowl and squares stacked next to it and the small home made "notch paper" that can be used for counting.

The bead chain arrows in their individual containers.
Everything looked great till I observed D using this setup for a couple of days.

Yes! That is my little one sitting on a Pink Cube!
As you can see, since it was all in one tray, D assumed that she had to work on all the chains and do all the arrows in one sitting.  This was exhausting for her and she is done with math for the day as soon as she is done with this work.  Another problem is that there is no way to untangle and get only one bead chain, the chain she decides to work on that particular day from the bowl, without spilling the contents.

D is skip counting aloud after she completed the whole layout for every chain.
I don't think she would be able to memorize skip counting using different numbers if she works this way, she should be working on one chain for a few days till she masters it.  So, I finally decided to get the wall stand ($10 on most online stores).  Hopefully this should alleviate the problems I mentioned above.

Coming back to the issue of whether to get the long bead chains, for now, since my monthly budget will not allow it, I am going to see if I can have D work with the skip counting cards that we got as part of the RightStart Mathematics Level B.  Once I have the wall stand set up for the short bead chains, D can pick one number and get the corresponding chain, arrows and Skip Counting envelope and work with it.  The only issue is that she might not understand the cubes and how those relate to the long chains.

Each set has its own envelope.
How does this work in your homeschool?


  1. I am so thankful for the deals were able to find for this material :) I got the bead cabinet itself from IFit when they were just starting on Ebay - so for 1 penny, plus $25 shipping :) Then I purchased the complete set of beads at Alison's for around $140 (price at the time). I purchased our boxes for the arrows at Montessori Services, but I love your jar idea! That would have been a bit cheaper on our budget ;)

    Now that we are almost halfway through elementary, I could not imagine doing without any of this particular material. Even between times of my son using it, he gets the visual sensorial impressions just LOOKING at it --- the squares lined up neatly behind their short chain components; the long chains hanging in such a way as to display each square they contain, knowing that the squares stacked on top of each become the cube up above it.

    It IS pricey; but if you continue into elementary it is still utilized quite a bit - with geometry, multiples, squaring, cubing and more.

    (PS I LOVE the little one sitting on the pink tower! My son did that at probably close to that age!)

  2. We have the full set. I think I paid $200 for the chains and cabinet all together from Adena. "Making Montessori Ours" designed a great homemade cabinet that holds both the short and long chains in less space than the traditional if you need to do that.

    My oldest has worked with both the short and long chains. He likes to repeat the work with the short. He has done the long chains (that I've put in the cabinet, I only put a new one in the cabinet after he has mastered the skip counting up to x10 of the old one) but he tends to only do them once and doesn't have an appetite for another for a while. We have so many other parts of the math sequence running in parallel he is plenty busy doing other math in between so it has worked out for us. Not saying it's ideal, or right, but just saying how it's worked. I know he is going to do a lot more work with these throughout elementary so I'm glad we have them.

  3. 25.01 for the cabinet! That is awesome Jessica! Thinking and factoring its use for multiple years, it does seem worth it to invest the $200-400, doesn't it. Hmm... I just placed an order for a bunch of Montessori materials, I should budget for this then...

    I am so happy to see you comment here! Thanks for taking the time!

  4. I know you have the full set, I stalk your school through your blog! Kidding, but true!

    I checked Adena, it is around $330 now, but out of stock. It would be perfect for us, since we already have the short bead chains. Thanks for letting me know how your son us doing with the cubes right now. But I see your point about how it can still be used in elementary.

  5. I was browsing for something unrelated and this blog post came up in Google - I'd forgotten I'd already commented on it as I was reading the post ;)

    Did you ever get the long chains? I ask because something you said in your post about not knowing if the connection will be made between the long chains and the cubes. I don't know how all the variety of presentations handle it, but the primary albums I have (from AMI) have the cube connection as the central experience - you hold up the cube and say "We are told there are 1000 beads in this cube, but how do we KNOW that!?" Then it proceeds to decomposing the cube into its 10 squares, re-doing the hundred chain to prove that each square has 100, then counting up to and down from 1000 with the long chain (and basically repeat for the other chains).

    My son (age 8 1/2) recently pulled out ALL the long chains "except that nasty thousand!" he said laughingly and did them all again. Why? I have no idea - probably just for the fun of it. He did COUNT the thousand chain - he just didn't get it out.



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