Addition: Colored Bead Stair

We’ve officially moved on to addition with the colored bead stair. Naturally, we will start with the basics of single addends. Following this post will be working with triple addends.

This is yet another great lesson in showing kids how to not only add, but also as an introduction to using the colored beads for older kids.


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Colored bead bars

      • 2. Pointer (see Meet the Colored Bead Stair for explanation)

    3. Colored Bead Stair Math Journal (here) or Paper (here)

      • 4. Pencil
      • 5. Colored pencils to match each bead bar
          6. Addition slips (I purchased these from Montessori Printshop –

    here – then painted them with red watercolor)

    Place your materials accordingly for easy access, leaving plenty of working space underneath your addition slips and colored bead bars.

    Take one addition slip – either blindly or intentionally – and place it above your addition and equals symbols.

    Read the addition problem outloud to the child or have him read it to you.

    Take the one, red bead bar from the first colored bead stair (cbs)…

    Compare it to your addition slip and say one

    …and place it to the left of the addition symbol.

    Do the same with the seven, white bead bar and place it to the right of the addition symbol.

    Now your addition problem is represented by the numerals from the addition slip to the concrete bead bars.

    Next bring your one bead bar and your seven bead bar to the right of the equals symbol and, using your pointer, count how many beads total you have.

    In this case, the one plus seven beads bars equals eight. Take the eight bead bar from either of the cbs…

    …and place it above the one and seven bead bars.

    Exchange the red and white bead bars with the brown, eight bar. (The word exchange is a great vocabulary word to use at this point. You’ll continue using it throughout many of the lessons using the colored beads)

    Repeat the problem out loud from the addition slip, and reveal the sum as eight! Voila!

    Here’s another one using the Colored Bead Stair Journal (you can find this in the Shop section).

    Take another addition slip and place it above the symbols.

    Get the appropriate beads to match 1+9 and place them in the correct places.

    Put the one and nine bead bars together to the right of the equals symbol and count the beads using your pointer.

    Take a single golden ten bar from the box and place it above the red and blue bead bars. Double check your answer by counting the bead bars together.

    Return the one and nine bead bars to their original positions and pat yourself on the back! Say the addition problem again, and follow it up with equals ten!

    In your CBS Journal (or Colored Bead Stair paper) take the red colored pencil and color in one circle to represent the one bead bar. Use your pencil to draw the plus sign in the circle after the red circle.

    Then take the blue colored pencil and color in nine circles to represent the nine bead bar. Use your pencil to draw the equals symbol in the circle after the last blue bead.

    Finally, take the gold colored pencil and color in ten circles after the equals symbol.

    If you’d like to take it a step further, use your pencil to write the actual problem into the circles after the bead bar representation. Onto the next problem…

    This example is getting a sum in the teens…


    Count up to ten first, and place the ten bead bar above the beads that equal ten.

    Continue counting the remaining beads, and place the four bead bar above the beads that equal four.

    This is work that comes after learning how to make teens with the colored bead stair seen in my previous post Make Teens: Colored Bead Stair. Your answer is 14!

    Colored Beads Addition ProblemsRecord this in your CBS Journal or CBS Paper.

    Do as many as you’d like!!

    Next up: Triple Addends: Colored Bead Stair

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