Making Teens: Colored Bead Stair

Going from single digits to double digits can be a pretty mind-blowing concept for some kids. Using the colored beads stair and the golden bead bars to teach this concept makes it a LOT easier for both the child and the educator.

If the child has recently been introduced to the colored bead stair and is ready to move on to turning them into teens, then this tutorial will show you a more visually stimulating way of doing just that.

This is one of the next steps in moving your child closer to more challenging math concepts. If your child is older and already knows his teens, then I suggest still showing him this concept if he is going to be using the colored beads in addition, subtraction, and especially multiplication with the checkerboard.

The numeral cards in this tutorial are handmade using cardstock, watercolor – specifically blue for tens (9) and green for units (1-9), and salt (for a more texturized, tie-dye look). You can purchase them here for a single dollar. If you want something wooden you can consider purchasing the tens and teens board from here.

So, making teens with the colored bead stair…

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1. colored bead stair or colored bead stair box
2. golden bead bars
3. numeral cards for tens and units
4. a pointer (see Meet the Colored Bead Stair for choosing a pointer)
5. colored bead stair paper (optional)


Prepare your materials by setting up your colored bead stair, a box of golden ten bars, and your tens and units numeral cards to the upper left of your work space.

Remind the child that the golden bead bar represents ten. Take one golden bead bar and move it to the upper left hand corner of your workspace.

Taking the top blue ten card, place it to the right of the golden bead bar. Say This is ten.

Take the first colored bead bar, the red unit, and place it next to the golden bead bar.

Count from ten, then say and one more is eleven.

Next take the green unit one card (they should be in order), and place it directly on top of the zero of the ten card.

Tell the child One ten and one unit is eleven. You can have him record this in his Colored Bead Paper found here, or move on to the number twelve.

Follow the same procedure for twelve as you did with eleven. Place the golden ten bar and the blue ten card next to each other. Take the green bead bar representing two next to the golden bead bar and count from ten, and say And two more is twelve.

Place the two numeral card on top of the unit zero of the blue tens card. Tell the child that this is what the numeral twelve looks like. Have him record it on his colored bead paper next to the eleven, or move on to thirteen.

Continue this process until you’ve reached 19, and tell the child he has accomplished all of the tens. High five!!

Other options or extensions:

Play a game with the child by laying out three of the tens. You can have them in order or mixed up. Have the child place the correct numeral cards next to the colored beads.

If your child feels super confident, have him try to do all nine of them!

For the actual lesson, you could also have all of the ten bars and the ten numeral cards laid out first, then add the correct colored bead to each ten bar representing 10-19. Or this could be a game in itself where the child has to then put the correct colored beads and numeral cards together!

Have fun with this! If your child is becoming frustrated with the process then TAKE A BREAK. You can always come back to it the next day, too. Also, try only doing 2-3 numbers on a given day instead of tackling all of them at once. This is a pretty big concept!

Next up in the colored bead stair series: Addition: Colored Bead Stair with single addends

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