spindle box montessori

This math lesson is designed for 3 to 6-year-old children to help them work on their counting skills using a Montessori spindle box.

What is a Spindle Box?

The Spindle Box is an early Montessori math activity where the child learns to identify a written number and match a loose quantity of spindles to the respective number on the board box.

It is a math material that contains long, wooden spindles with no markings or colors. The box is divided into ten compartments, with numbers 0-9 printed at the back of the compartments.

Purpose of the Spindle Box

Working with the spindle boxes introduces zero as the absence of quantity or the empty set. Throughout the activity, it reinforces the natural sequence of numbers from 0 to 9 and introduces the concept of numbers as quantities of separate objects. 

The aim of this activity is to count and place the correct amount of spindles into the respective numbered compartment as per the numeral. 

What Does the Child Learn by Working with the Montessori Spindle Box?

  • It helps the child develop an understanding of quantity, and promotes listening skills. 
  • It helps the child learn about numerical sets and allows them to practice relating each number to its actual value.
  • It helps a child to learn the decimal system in the future.
  • It helps in developing order, concentration, and hand-eye coordination.
  • It is a fun and innovative way to instill a sense of logical thinking in the child. 


  • The child must have been introduced to the number rods, sandpaper numerals, and number cards.
  • The child must be able to identify numerals 1-10.
  • They must be able to count accurately from 1 to 10. 

How to Introduce the Montessori Spindle Box to the Child?

  1. Invite the child to the table and introduce a spindle to the child, asking them to feel it.
  2. She then points to the numbers written on the spindle box and introduces numerals from 0 to 9.
  3. Ask the child to recognize the numbers randomly, leaving out 0.
  4. Let the child answer all the numbers.
  5. Now, again point to numeral 1, and ask the child to pick one spindle and put it in the compartment with numeral 1.
  6. Again, point to numeral 2 and ask the child to pick two spindles, bind them with a thread, and put them in the compartment with two numbers. And tell them every step, we will add one more spindle to it to match the numeral written on the spindle box.
  7.  Repeat the above step until numeral 9. 
  8. Now, ask the child which compartment doesn’t have any spindle.
  9. Let the child point out toward a compartment with a 0 numeral and introduce the concept of 0.
  10. Ask the child to try. 
  11. Later, ask the child to place all the spindles back into the box.

Why bind the spindles?

Binding the quantities is essential because it reinforces that the quantity counted together is a set. A child can also pick a set of spindles and observe whether the set with 9 spindles is the heaviest, or how much space it is taking.

Control of Error in the Spindle Box Activity

At the end of the activity, there should be no spindle left in the box. If so, a child needs to find, identify, and fix it.

This practical method is a fun and innovative way to instill a sense of logical thinking in the child. This would help them to get a better understanding of the math concepts.

Watch the video to know more about the spindle box activity and the concept of zero in counting. 

Related Video Resources :

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Video Created by: Joanne Shango