Tag Archives: sensorial

The Large Bead Stair

The construction of the large bead stair began as a problem to be solved in our outdoor classroom.  Each morning the children help open and set up the cognitive materials on the porch.  The Montessori bead stair is a quintessential math material which helps with one to one correspondence, links quantity to symbol and is used in higher end math materials, such as the teen boards, short and long chains, and operations.  Day after day pieces of the bead stair would get accidently dropped through the floor slats of the porch.  As a result, much of our time in the morning was spent replacing the missing beads.
Hanging Bead Stair
Hanging Bead Stair
One day a child remarked, “Oh!  I wish these beads were not so small!”  We started brainstorming a weather-proof, porch-proof bead stair.  It would need to be inexpensive and involve the children as much as possible in its construction.  We also wanted it to highlight the small Montessori bead stair located inside in the classroom rather than take its place.
Large Bead Stair
Large Bead Stair
It has been a beautiful point of interest for both the Toddler and Primary children as they walk by the material on the way to the playground and a valued addition to our math curriculum for the outside classroom.
 How to Make the Large Bead Stair:
55 golf balls
2 tomato cages
white primer spraypaint
9 permanent markers or paint pens (red, green, pikn, yellow, light blue, purple, brown, dark blue, and gold)
electric drill
wire cutters
needlenose pliers
Large Bead Stair
Large Bead Stair


1. Wash and prime golf balls
2. Drill a hole through each one
3. Cut cages into 10 strips (3 inch, 5 inch, 7 inch……..up to 21 inch)
4. Bend a loop at each end and thread golf balls onto wires.
5. Add color to golf balls to match the small bead stair.
Once the tools came out the boys were all ready and willing to help!…drill the holes, cut the wire, and string the balls on in 1-10 sequence. When we were ready to add color, the girls arrived and organized themselves to apply color to the balls to match the small bead stair.   Kindergarteners checked in periodically to supervise and make suggestions (they have been working with the bead stair for years and are well-versed in managing others and chiming in with their expertise at this point in the year)…..
Community Building
Community Building

…and voila!  We finished and presented the large bead stair as complete and available to use!  It has shown to be quite inviting and enticing due to its appearance and location.  It has even called to young children who do not have a developed pincer grip yet but who are able to exercise a 4-finger grasp and strengthen their one to one correspondence.

As a larger indirect benefit, we have watched the primary children pass by and comment (as they always do after community projects) that they helped make that!

Living It – The Tipi


All across the United States children of all ages have begun a study of North America history and culture.  Heralded by Columbus Day and threading through until at least Thanksgiving Day, Americans delve into various interpretations on what transpired when one culture, the Europeans, collided with another, the Indigenous Peoples of North America.

At our current juncture in American history, it can be difficult to imagine life in the Americas only a few hundred years ago upon the meeting of the first Pilgrims and Indians.  However, every person residing in the United States be it Manhattan, the Badlands, San Francisco or right here in Charleston, South Carolina are within walking distance to historical sites where the two cultures met, exchanged ideas, collaborated, or came in conflict- its understanding essential in defining  modern interpretation of what it means to be American.

The primary years during which time a person is in her ABSORBENT PERIOD provides a unique opportunity to instill a concrete, sensorially rich memory upon which future history may unfold in the mind.  For this, we have found the TIPI to be essential.

This fall will mark our second year of living it with a life size replica of Sioux Tipi of the American Plains.  No dwelling in all the world stirs the imagination like the tipi of the Plains Indians.

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As we soak in the magnitude and beauty of our Tipi which now marks the entrance of our school garden, we  prepare our winter grounds.  As a place marked for silent reflection and meditation, the elders work quietly side-by-side preparing the environment to welcome the other members of our community in the coming months.  Our memories fill with what must have been similar practical and sensorial experiences of Indian children preparing their homes a few centuries ago.


the Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction, and Use, Reginald & Gladys Laubin

The Wisdom of the Native Americans, Compiled and Edited by Kent Nerburn

If You Lived with the Sioux Indians, Ann McGovern

Native Americans: Plains Indians, Mir Tamin Ansary