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Spindle Boxes

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A box divided into ten compartments.
At the back of each compartment is painted one of the numbers from 0 to 9 in sequence. 
(Box may be manufactured as two adjoining boxes.)
45 spindles in a basket or box.
9 fasteners for bundling spindles.  


  1. Invite the child to the lesson. 
  2. Ask the child to unroll a rug on the floor. 
  3. Show him the spindle box and how to carry it.  
  4. Show him the basket of spindles.  
  5. Ask him to take the spindle box to the rug while you bring the basket of spindles.  
  6. Introduce the box by reviewing the numbers at random “What number is this?” 
  7. “We have these numbers, and each number has a little compartment.” 
  8. “The number tells us how many spindles go in that compartment.” 
  9. Pull out a bundling tie and place it in front of the spindle box. 
  10. Start with 1, point at it and ask the child to read the number. 
  11. Take one spindle out of the basket and place it in your left hand. 
  12. Close your left hand, covering the spindle.  
  13. Open your hand, and place the spindle on the tie.  
  14. Tie the spindle up.  
  15. Place the spindle in the compartment.  
  16. Continue this process until 3 or 4, then let the child do the rest up to 9. 
  17. After the child finishes 9, point out that there are no more spindles left in the basket. “How many spindles are in the basket?” 
  18. Point at the 0, “Zero! It means not any.” 
  19. Ask the child to take the spindles out, one compartment at a time, and untie them and place the spindles back in the basket.  


Exercise 1, Child works independently.  
Exercise 2, The Zero Game. 

Invite three or four children to the lesson. This lesson will accentuate the meaning of zero. In a small circle, ask each child to perform an action a certain number of times, such as “clap 4 times” or “jump 9 times.” For each child, be sure to say something like “pat your legs 0 times” so that each child can experience zero.  

Exercise 3, Bundling.  

You perform this exercise only if you do not bundle in the original presentation. Before placing the spindles in the compartments, and after counting them, you would tie them together and then put them in the compartment. 

Control of Error

There are exactly 45 spindles, no extras.  


To clarify that symbols also represent a quantity of separate objects.
To introduce zero by having a compartment that remains empty. 
To show the natural sequence of numbers in a fixed way.
Preparation for the fact that there are no other symbols than 0 – 9.  




Always count the quantity of spindles in the morning before giving this lesson to make sure the set is complete. 
Loose quantity and fixed sequence. 
Here is where we introduce zero for the first time. 
The zero game accentuates what zero means in real life. 
For bundling, make the bundle attractive and workable for the child, such as pipe cleaners, hair ties, Velcro, bead and cord, ribbon, or yarn. If the bundling material is too difficult to use, it becomes problematic and shouldn’t be used until a better material replaces it. 
Formula for adding consecutive numbers: n(n +1) / 2 

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