Friday, July 3, 2009

Question about the Golden Bead materials...

I was looking around at our local bead store today & realised that I don't know what size the real Golden Beads are!

The beads that I thought 'looked right' were 6mm (& not *perfectly* round which I have heard people mention before can be a problem when you try to make the thousand cube). But, of course, the 6mm beads x 10 for a ten bar didn't make a 10cm long ten bar... I don't know if this is a problem or not?

Can anyone help me? There were 10mm beads but they looked far too big to me & the 10 of them still only managed to be 9.5cm long anyway!

Love to hear your thoughts especially if you have made them yourself or have a real set to measure against!

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Comments :


  1. I have just measured our golden beads! The single bead is 6mm across. After that there are 2 types of 10's, 100's and 1000's. You can buy the posh ones on a metal bar and you can buy the budget ones that are fused plastic. We have both at school. We use the more expensive ones with the seguin board and the teen hanger because they go with the short bead stair and it looks better to have them all the same. Once you get into the bank game and using lots of hundres they make the link without you having to point out they look differnt but are the same and it doesn't cost so much. I am sure there some schools with lovely big budgets that use the beads on metal bars all the way through the curriculum and it does look and feel nicer - but only marginally!

    Our 10 bead bar made in fused plastic is only 6.7mm long. They aren't used for measuring and they don't fit into any other materials so it doesn't matter!
    To be honest, if budget is a question it is cheaper to buy a whole set, depending on shipping of course, than it is to make them.

  2. Hi!

    The blog "Montessori at Home" did a three-part series on making your own bead material, where to get the beads etc., I'll give you links to all three parts.

    Is it possible you bought what are called "pony beads"? Pony beads are the most common type sold in craft stores. They may be 6mm but they are not ROUND and won't work for making bead material.

    Also, in response to Annicles, Montessori at Home mentioned it is not cheaper to make your own materials if you buy your beads at a craft store. You have to buy them wholesale, which is probably the only way to get golden perfectly round beads anyway.
    She talks about the wholesale options and which she likes best in the posts.

    She also talks about how if you are at home you don't need the complete bead material to do all the activities like you would in a classroom, you need much less. She figured out exactly how much you need to do the full complement of activities and the exact number of beads you need to make.

    Here is the link to part one:

    part two:

    part three:

  3. Oh, and I think her posts say that she used specifically 8mm beads. Again, you probably have to get them wholesale.

  4. ok, I just measured my beads (which look identical to the picture you have. I got them from Montessori Outlet) and they look to be approx 8mm. Since they are not used for measuring (unlike Cuisinairre rods) I don't think it matters what size you use, but they do need to be round in order to make a proper square and cube.
    As far as the number of beads to buy/make, I have 110 units,about 50 tens, 9 squares and a cube. I then supplemented with ten wooden squares and ten wooden cubes.
    This seems to be about the right number for us. We can do everything we need to, but don't have a bunch of extras.

  5. Hello wonderful Montessori ladies :)

    Thanks for the measuring & the links. It sure is funny how it all adds up isn't it! The beads I saw at the bead store are only $4 for 100 (8mm) so when you are just thinking about the units & the tens it seems like nothing... until you start calculating for the hundred squares & thousand cubes... & then it is just insane!!! Plus, you're completely right - it just isn't going to work if the beads aren't perfectly round. I really appreciated MaH's posts because it made me realise how much work is involved & I already have so many little Montessori projects in the pipeline.

    Ho-hum... I'm still waiting on an ebay lead for some materials coming out of Asia (I can only presume) but otherwise someone suggested just using Base 10 materials instead of the Golden Beads.

    Here's a link to what I mean:

    They sure aren't as beautiful as the Golden Beads but much more economical. Ideally, I guess, I'd get one basic decimal set of the Montessori glass Golden Beads & then supplement with the Base 10 material for all of the extensions & games.

    Lots to think about...

  6. Hi Amber,

    Adena sells the 9 golden bead bars of Ten for $3.38, 9 golden hundred squares for $27, and the Thousand cubes for $27 each. I don't know how much they normally go for on ebay though.

  7. Hi Rebecca :)

    Yup, that's cheaper than you can make them, hey?! I'm always stuck on the fact that Adena have free postage to Australia for orders over US$350 -ish , which makes me think that I must make the most of that & get the free postage - which would be great except that I don't have that much to spend left!

    But... I wonder what the postage is on just those GB items - they're not wooden so the weight can't be too bad. Hmmm, I should email them. Thanks for the reminder!

  8. Just looking at the Adena site & saw that orders *under* US$355 are a flat fee of $28 for freight to a bunch of countries incl. Australia. That's a bit but it's not crazy either...

  9. One crazy idea here, but might the base ten stuf be easier to make than the bead material? You have mde some lovely materials this year - maybe that's the way to go. Look out for Dienes (Deines?) materials too. They are also base ten but can be a little nicer. They may only be available second hand though......

    You could make base ten stuff and paint it gold!

  10. Annicles, I love the idea of painting some wooden ones gold! Too cute ;)

  11. Hi Amber
    Having equipped more than one classroom with materials on a budget - I had to put my two bobs worth in...
    The bead materials just need to be bought - there are so many things that can be handmade - this is not one of them.
    This may sound a bit snobby - but the base ten materials just do not do justice to the important role that the bead materials play in running a common thread through the entire Maths curriculum.

    My preference is for the plastic connected beads rather than the ones on wire. I find that the wired beads actually don't make a perfect square or cube either, and when you want to line the beads up end to end (for the snake games for instance) the little wire loop gets in the way and does not allow the child to accurately compare the different bead bars.

    This is one area where you really need to hold your breath and spend the money.

    If you purchase the set of golden beads and the bead chains you are set to go with more than half of the Maths curriculum right through to squaring and cubing. I like to buy a decanomial bead bar box too, as this can be used in its entirety for the decanomial, but can also be used in part for every other job that requires bead bars.

    Almost all the other maths equipment can be made (from the stamp game through to the decimal checkerboard). Only one other piece of equipment I would consider purchasing would be the test tube division (only because I have found it next to impossible to find that many tiny test tubes)

    Adena have the best prices, and their quality is satisfactory for home use (wouldn't hold up under classroom use), but their customer service is appalling. My advice is to ensure that you have direct contact with a real person so that if anything is not right with the order you have someone to follow it up with directly.

  12. I love getting all of this feedback! Thanks for your thought Meg :) I'm definitely realising that the Golden Beads materials are some of the "must buy" materials - even though from the amatuer eye they look like some of the simplest ones to make.

    I did look at A2Z in NZ but Adena do still look like the best prices & I think that your idea of making contact with a real person there is really good. Essential in fact by the sound of things!

    When you say 'the set of golden beads & bead chains' how many of the bigger items (hundreds / thousands) do you think you can get by with? I also must read ahead & get my head around the bead chains now before i order anything if they are going to be essential.


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