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Introduction to the Decimal System – Beads

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A tray with 1 golden bead, 1 bar of 10 beads, 1 square of 100 (composed of 10 bars of 10), and 1 cube of 1000 (composed of 10 squares of 100).
A large tray with an indefinite supply of beads from each category (or the golden bead storehouse). 
Several small trays, each with a small caster. 


  1. Invite the child to the lesson. 
  2. Show him the tray and say “This is the golden bead tray.” 
  3. Ask him to bring it to a table. 
  4. Pick up the unit bead. 
  5. Place it on the table.  
  6. Ask the child to pick it up, say “This is one, we can also call it unit.” then ask him to place it down. 
  7. Pick up the ten. 
  8. Place it on the table. 
  9. Ask the child to pick it up, say “This is ten” then ask him to place it down. 
  10. Pick up the hundred.
  11. Place it on the table. 
  12. Ask the child to pick it up, say “This is a hundred” then ask him to place it down.  
  13. Pick up the thousand.
  14. Place it on the table. 
  15. Ask the child to pick it up, say “This is a thousand” then ask him to place it down. 
  16. Ask the child to hold one category in each hand at a time and compare their weights. 
  17. Once he has compared them all, point out the unit again. 
  18. “There is one unit. Just one.” 
  19. “Let’s see how many units go into ten. Let’s count together.” 
  20. Move the unit-bead next to each bead of the ten as you count. 
  21. “One unit, two units, three unites, four units, five unites, six units, seven units, eight units, nine units, ten units. Ten units are inside a ten!” 
  22. Point at the hundred again. 
  23. “Let’s see how many tens fit into one hundred.” 
  24. Move the ten next to each set of ten inside of the hundred bead as you count. 
  25. “One ten, two tens, three tens, four tens, five tens, six tens, seven tens, eight tens, nine tens, ten tens. Ten tens are inside a hundred!” 
  26. Point at the thousand again. 
  27. “Let’s see how many hundreds fit into a thousand.” 
  28. Move the hundred next to each set of a hundred inside of the thousand bead as you count. 
  29. “One hundred, two hundreds, three hundreds, four hundreds, five hundreds, six hundreds, seven hundreds, eight hundreds, nine hundreds, ten hundreds. Ten hundreds are inside a thousand!” 

Exercise 2, Indefinite Quantities

  1. Invite the child to the lesson. 
  2. Show him the shelf of golden beads that has beads in trays or boxes, separated by category. 
  3. Show him the cup of unit beads. 
  4. Show him the box of tens. 
  5. Show him the tray with hundreds, and point out that there are wooden hundreds too. “Some are beads, some are wood, but these are both hundreds.” 
  6. Show him the tray with thousands, and point out that there are wooden thousands too. “Just like before, some are beads, some are wood, but both of these are thousands.” 
  7. Show the child the math tray underneath or near the shelf that is used for bead activities.  
  8. “I will tell you what number to get, then you can bring the beads to me by using this tray. It even has a small cup for units.” 
  9. Ask the child to bring you a random number of beads – but do not combine categories yet – such as “I want you to bring me 7 units. I’ll be over here helping other children, but once you have the beads I asked for, bring them on the tray and come and see me.” 
  10. Once the child brings you the tray with beads ask “What did you bring?” 
  11. Start counting the beads and wait for the child to join you in counting. 
  12. If incorrect, kindly ask the child to try again.  
  13. If correct, ask the child to put the beads back where they go, and then to see you right after to get a new number. 
  14. Repeat this process until the child tires. 


Exercise 1, there is no independent work here, unless the child wants to take out the tray and look at the beads again. 

Exercise 2, Indefinite Quantities. 


To know the names and sizes of the categories.    


4 to 5


Where we are headed, although not there yet, is collective exercises so be sure to be giving these lessons independently to various children so that they are prepared and ready to work together soon.
If you have plastic beads, try to have at least one set of glass beads for each category so that the child can experience the baric difference.
Later the child will see that there are wooden materials that represent hundred and thousand as well. 

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