DIY Math Beads

Posted In: All posts, Math

Playful Learning DIY Math Beads

These math beads are inspired by the Montessori Bead Material. The idea of the Bead Material is to help children understand numbers (particularly units, tens, hundreds and thousands), to quantify, to create complex numbers (3, 4, 5- digit numbers), as well as understand that each category is ten times larger than the previous; 10 is ten times larger than one, 100 is ten times larger than 10 and so on.

DIY Math Beads

These math beads were really easy to make. All you need is:

  • some small beads – ok a lot of small beads
  • wire – I used 3 inch headpins but you can use any wire. 3 inches fits ten small beads nicely
  • beading pliers – or a pair of small pliers

Then simply thread your beads, twist the ends and trim. Easy.

DIY Math Beads

I wanted my son Jack to be able to create 2 and 3-digit numbers, add and do simple multiplication so in our set I made:

  • 2 sets of 1-9 beads
  • 30 sets of 10 beads

Montessori Bead Materials also have 100-bead boards and 1000-bead cubes. That’s a lot more work, but the 10-bead strings are really simple and meet our needs for now.

These wonderful math manipulatives have so many opportunities for learning. You can:

DIY Math Beads

Use them for addition.

DIY Math Beads

Work on multiplication.

DIY Math Beads

Skip count by twos or threes or…

DIY Math Beads


DIY Math Beads

And create complex numbers.

You could also use the math beads for working on fractions; so many possibilities. So why not make a set. They are really simple. You can pick up beads fairly cheaply at the dollar store and before you know it you’ll have a beautiful set of math manipulatives that you can continue to add to as your child’s understanding grows..



Kate Gribble lives with her husband and two little ones, Jack and Sarah, in Canberra, Australia. She is a former high school teacher but now spends her days happily homeschooling. Kate likes to dabble in a bit of photography, is a hopeless but aspiring kitchen gardener, and loves a bit of crafty goodness. You can find more inspiration over at her blog, An Everyday Story.



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  1. I did not know that making these math beads could be so easy. I am very eager to make my own. My son is old enough to help me put the beads on the wire which will help with his fine motor skills. Thank you for posting this DIY tutorial. The steps are very clear and easy to follow.

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