The child builds a triangle using nine different bead bars ranging in length from 1 to 9 beads.

The Short Bead Stair

The Short Bead Stair


The child is introduced to the bead material.


  • Reinforce the quantities 1–9
  • Prepare for additions using the bead bars
  • Prepare for the concept of counting




  • Set of coloured Bead Bars, threaded on wire, ranging from 1 to 9 beads
  • Small felt mat (plain colour)
  • Container: box/small basket

Control of Error

Visual: The shape of the triangle formed by the beads


Numbers 1 to 9; names of the colours


The Short Bead Stair

“Only practical work and experience lead the young to maturity.” —Maria Montessori in The Absorbent Mind

Perform this individual exercise at the table. Lay out the felt mat and invite the child to count the beads on each bar, starting with the one Bead Bar from the Short Bead Stair. Lay the bars into a triangle as you build this shape.

When the triangle is complete, show the child the shape made. Her visual memory may help her to self correct when she builds the stair.

Replace the coloured bead bars in your container and invite the child to have a turn.


As the child performs this exercise, she learns that colours are associated with numbers. You can use the Three Period Lesson if the child has difficulty remembering the corresponding numbers of the bead bars. Show the child any single bar and ask her to count the beads in it, then ask her to tell you the name of the colour. Introduce two further bars one at a time, either on the mat or in the palm of your hand, pointing at each of the bar’s beads to count them.

You can use the number cards from 0 to 9 to give the child further practice in counting and associating the correct bead bar with the numerals.