What is the Spindle Box in Montessori?

In the Montessori System, different materials are designed to engage the child mentally and physically. These materials are presented to the child to make them implement the concepts that they have learned in the class. One of such materials that Maria Montessori introduced to the world is called a spindle box.

The spindle box is a mathematical activity that urges children to count the number of spindles and place them according to their respective numbers mentioned on the box. The box is divided into compartments and labeled from 0 to 9. The child then has to count the correct number of spindles and put them in their corresponding compartments. The good thing about a spindle box is that it can be made out of a box and anything like straws, match sticks, ice-cream sticks, and even pipe cleaners.

To know more about spindle boxes and how they are important for child development, read more to find out!

Montessori spindle box
Montessori Spindle Box from Amazon

Why are Spindle boxes important?

Spindle boxes are introduced in the early years of child education to present a clear idea of numbers to the child. Once the child has developed an understanding of numbers from zero to nine, then they are ready to implement their learning on the spindle box.

The spindle boxes play a crucial role in letting the child know the relationship between the symbols and what they represent. By counting the spindles, the early learners can see, touch, and feel and form a concrete relation between numbers and the quantity they represent.

How to present a Spindle box to the child?

Before you introduce the spindle box to the child, you should first ask the child about the numbers from zero to nine at random or in the correct order. After that here are the steps that you should follow to get your kids to become familiar with a spindle box:

  • Tell the children about the spindle box and introduce it to them.
  • After that, ask them to bring it over to you from the materials sections.
  • Then, point to the different compartments and have the children repeat the numbers as you move from one compartment to the next.
  • Then go back to the one one-slot, and tell the children that we will place one spindle in this compartment and repeat the same procedure for the two-compartment and so on.
  • Instruct the children to place the correct number of spindles in every compartment.
  • After the kids are done placing all the spindles in their respective compartments, then bring the attention of the kids towards the zero compartment and tell them that this is zero. Zero means nothing so there are no spindles in this slot.
  • Then, ask the kids to tie the spindles in the two-compartment with a rubber band and place it back. Repeat the same process for three and so on.
  • After the kids are done doing this, ask them to pick the spindles in a group and place them back in the basket while counting.
  • When they are done with counting the spindles and placing them back in the basket, ask them again why there are no spindles in the zero compartment.
  •  Then ask the children to place the spindle boxes back on the materials shelf.

Why you should tie the spindles in a Spindle box?

Tying the spindles is an important step in the Spindle box activity as it ensures that the kids know that what they have counted has now become a set. You can also use the tied spindles to introduce new concepts to the children. You can ask the children what they think about the tied bunches. You might notice that some children may comment about how one bunch is heavier than the other.

The spindle box activity can be performed by the children on their own once you have given them a demonstration of how to carry it out.

Montessori Spindle Box
Montessori Spindle Box from Amazon

Control of error in a Spindle box

Maria Montessori emphasized that young children should be able to work independently, without seeking the help of an adult. With a Spindle box, the kids can do just that. Once the child understands how to carry out this activity, he/she can perform it on their own. He/she can also figure out when and where they went wrong in case there are any spindles left over, or not enough spindles present, after putting all the spindles in their respective compartments.

How can you make a Spindle box?

You do not require many items to create a spindle box of your own. You can even construct it from simple items that are lying around your house such as egg cartons or straws. Here are some items that you can use to make a spindle box:

  • Ice-cube tray: Although ice cube trays do not necessarily have ten compartments each, still you can use them to label the numbers from zero to nine and even more.
  • Ramekin spindle box: To create a ramekin-themed spindle box, you will need some ramekins that are placed next to each other. You can also provide the children with chocolate chips, or small candies to place in the ramekins that are labeled from zero to nine.
  • Egg cartons: Egg cartons are also a good option to use if you want to make a spindle box at your home with limited ingredients. You can cut off the last two slots of an egg carton to have ten compartments. You can then provide the kids with any small items like beans or chocolate chips to count and put in their respective compartments.

The spindle box is a great way for kids to experience hands-on learning opportunity and reinforce the concepts through repetitive performing of the activity. They also contribute to the development of their senses and motor skills. Spindle boxes are a sure-fire way to earn the kids’ attention and make them learn the concept of numbers and quantities interestingly. You can also substitute the spindles for something else like counters of different shapes to capture the children’s attention and make them more excited to carry out the activity.

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