Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Addition Snake Game

One of my purchases while attending the AMS conference was this:

The Addition Snake Game:  The red box contains 10 sets of colored bead bars (1-9).  The gold box contains 25 golden bead bars (10's), and the white (lid) and black box contains a set of black and white bead bars (1-9).  Inside this box also a smalled notched card (bridge) to aid in counting.  Above the boxes is a rolled piece of red felt to be used as a mat.
The activity is part of the traditional Montessori Math materials and is used to familiarize the child with all the possible number combinations that make ten.  It also gives the child subconscious knowledge that no two digits added together amount to more than 18.  Addtionally, the Snake Game gives the first basic practice in memorizing number combinations that equal ten (6+4, 7+3, etc.).

The red color corresponds with Montessori exercises of addition.  I just had to use my red napkin holder which is part of a set from Russia to hold the rolled felt mat.  Adding small touches of beauty like this to an excersice is important to me - it gives the lesson a feeling of warmth and if nothing else, provides an added point of interest for the child! 

Here is a breakdown of the initial presentation of the Addition Snake Game:

Presentation:  The colored beads and ten bars have been reviewed.  The black and white bead bars have been introduced and placed in an inverted triangle on the right side of the mat.  The bridge (used to aid in counting and place-holding) is placed to the right of the black and white beads.  During the initial presentation, the colored beads used include the numbers one through nine and an extra five bar. 

Presentation in progress:  The colored beads are counted from one to ten, at which point they are exchanged for a golden bead bar (ten).  Any remaining beads on  a colored bead bar is counted and replaced by a corresponding "place holder" from the black and white bead bars.  Counted colored bead bars are placed in the box which held the black and white bead bars.

Prestation completed:  The "snake" has been counted and has turned golden! 
 Lastly, to check the work:

First control complete:  The colored snake had the same amount of beads as the golden snake. 
Can you see the different number combinations of ten?   The second control, which I have not included in the photos, introduces the child to multiplication by showing how the addition of equal quantities, i.e. 3+3+3, is multiplication.  Everytime I give this lesson I get so excited about math!  Now, if only I had only known about this when I was five....


  1. Hi and thanks for the blog. I am studying to be a Montessori teacher - can you help me understand how this lesson gives the child the knowledge about 2 numbers under ten adding together to a sum less than 18? It is in my album, but I don't see it in the lesson!

  2. Hi,
    Yes it is true- this lesson gives the child a subconcious knowledge that two numbers under ten will always be 18 or under. This is because the highest the addeds can be are 9 and 9. I hope this helps... Good luck with your studies!

  3. Hi Sasha.. I am thinking about prsenting this activity to one of my children in my cassroom who is particulary advanced. I am just afraid to overwhelm him and I was wondering how did your children respond to the activity the first time you presented it? Have you got any recommendations on how to present it? I know how to present the activity step by step. However, I wanted you to give some insight on the activity. Thanks for your time Sasha!

  4. Before presenting this lesson, the children in my class have lots of practice with addition, subtraction, mutliplication, and maybe division (depending on child) with the golden beads. Also, the chidlren in my class who have had this lesson are proficient with the Stamp Game. As far as their response - they were completely excited and wanted to make really long snakes! I think I will have a couple of students ready for this work in the next few weeks.

    1. hi sasha, i want to apply this activity in my class room but 1st i given them the knowledge about the addition & equal sigh so kindly give me suggestion how i carry out this

  5. Be sure they have done addition with the golden beads and stamp game before the Snake Game. If a child has been introduced to the Stamp Game, they should already know about the addition sign. I hope this helps! Thanks for reading.

  6. What happens if a student creates a golden snake with a quantity over 100?

  7. Hi!
    It shouldn't matter if the child makes a number over 100 because: 1. There are enough golden bead bars in the box for exchanging, and 2. During the control, we are looking for numbers that make ten, and 3. The child should have already been introduced the decimals system beads, cards, operations, etc. and knows what 100's are.
    Does this help?
    Thanks, Sasha

  8. Thank you that was helpful! Question: The presentations I have seen for proof 2 are so convoluted and complex (e.g. with exchange-and-compare in 1 step) that they serve little purpose as a control of error. If you could help me with that I would be eternally grateful! (Also I too don't get the relevance of X x 2 <= 18, since there is nothing to limit the child to only 2 of any bar-size: she might have 4 5-bars, 3 8-bars, and so on. ...Nor why that would even be useful information.)

  9. Thank you for explaining this in so much detail. I'm featuring this activity post with one picture in a round up of addition activities I'm putting together at!

  10. I really like this post. Montessori Addition Snake Game are really liked by kids. Keep sharing more information about this game.

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