I’ve started making my own Montessori math bead materials. They are quite an expensive purchase and you can save money by making your own, though it’s a huge undertaking. Pumpkin 1 won’t need most of the bead materials for a year or more but I thought I’d get started making them now. One of the reasons I wanted to make my own is I want to adapt them to the RightStart concept of 5+. So after the 5 bead bar, I’m doing 5 dark beads followed by however many light beads.
Faceted beads are the cheapest. You need to use beads that are spheres, not pony beads or else you’ll get rectangles and prisms not, squares and cubes. I purchased my beads from here. I hunted around online for hours and this was the best prices which shipped to Canada. Shipping was steep (I ordered all the beads I’d need to make everything, so it was a heavy box) at $50 but it was still overall cheaper than any other site. I ordered the tools, round nose pliers and cutters from Fire Mountain Gems and the wire and jump rings from there. However the wire wasn’t right. The first time I didn’t realize the lower the gage number the thicker the wire. But when I did order 16 gage wire, it was super soft and pliable. My husband then got me wire from the hardware store, 18 gage and nice and stiff. I ordered 8mm beads which are the perfect size. You could go up to 10mm too, but I wouldn’t do 6mm. I’ll make a separate post of how many beads you need to do the RightStart Math inspired method.
It’s not hard to catch on how to make the bead bars, however, I don’t recommend trying to cut wire the right size first. It’s easier to thread the beads on the wire first, make the loop and cut the other end leaving enough for the second loop. Then you’re not wasting wire judging the size wrong. As for the squares and cubes, it did require a little more figuring out. I knew to use the mesh canvas which I got at the dollar store from this blog but her math calculation for the size of the canvas confused me. It’s basically, you need to leave a gap between each bead, so if you’re doing the 5 square you’d cut 9 holes out – bead, gap, bead, gap, bead, gap, bead, gap, bead (you only need gaps between beads, not on the ends).
This is the same for the cube only you do it length by width. There are some other tricks I picked up. I made a video of how to make a bead cube that I hope will help give a visual. (The sound quality isn’t too great, it makes me sound like I lisp lol)
Here’s the finished cube
The pictures kinda make the beads look cheap, which they are, but they actually look kinda pretty. Pumpkin 1 and my daycare child really prefer them to the ones I bought.