One of the many ways to practice addition in a Montessori classroom is to play the Snake Game. The snake game is a game which children enjoy and which helps them to prepare for addition as it provides practice in counting various numbers which combine to make the number ten. The game has three components: a black and white bead stair, multi-coloured beads, golden beads and a special notched card for the purpose of counting and marking.
In the initial stage of presenting the snake game to the child, the teacher will begin the exercise by introducing the child to the black and white beads, which are then placed in an inverted triangle (9 to 1) and then coloured beads with (1 to 9) on the other side. During this first presentation, the coloured beads (which vary in sequence from 1-9) are prepared in the shape of a snake, in sets of 10, therefore, nine beads plus one bead; six beads plus four beads etc. The child is then asked to count up to ten, using the coloured beads as a guide. Once the number 10 is reached, the coloured bead set is replaced with a golden bar (which constitutes 10 beads). The teacher will then continue in sequential order from both stairs each time placing bars alongside one another to total 10.
During the second presentation, the teacher will demonstrate what to do if numbers don’t come out to exact sets of 10, which may happen when the child is creating their own snake. If the child got to ten in the middle of a set of beads, the remaining beads on that bar are replaced with the appropriate quantity from the black and white beads, otherwise known as the Black and White Bead Stair. These help the child with any leftovers they may need to fill in to add up to number 10. When checking the work, the child will line up the golden bead bars with the coloured beads to ensure they got the correct number of equalling to number 10.
When teaching the snake game to the child at home with beads or in the classroom with the bead staircase, the child feels a lot of excitement when they are able to work with the snake game as it helps them to identify sets of 10, which will solidify their knowledge of basic addition facts.
Objectives of the snake game: 1) To prepare the child for addition 2) Further practice counting 1 to 10 and making number bonds of 10
“Respect all the reasonable forms of activity in which the child engages and try to understand them.” - Maria Montessori -