A DIY Montessori Addition Strip Board – And How to Use It!

Peanut has become very interested in math and numbers, so I decided to begin addition. To get started, I decided to make my own DIY Montessori Addition Strip Board.

First, let’s start with why? How did I arrive at the conclusion that this would be a good material for Peanut? There are many ways to do addition with Montessori math materials. Up to this point, Peanut hasn’t shown a whole lot of interest in the bead stair or beads in general. “Mama that’s boring,” he says. So…much to my dismay, no beads. But it’s not about me! It’s about him.

So, I moved on and thought that maybe he would like the addition strip board. I decided to make one and see if he liked it and guess what? Bingo! He loves it! I think the block-like shapes of the strips are appealing to him, as after I presented it to him he started filling out the whole board with the different colored strips to see how they would match up.

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What is an addition strip board?

As you can see in the pictures, it’s a board with a grid on it. There are two sets of strips, one blue set and one red set. Each set of strips has the numbers 1-9. Then, the child uses the strips, one of each color, to perform addition problems. The board shows the answer. It’s really quite simple, and it’s a very practical way to show addition in a concrete way.

DIY Montessori addition strip board…how?

I used a piece of poster board and foam paper to make my set. I measured out the grid using squares that are 2 cm by 2 cm. Then, make sure you draw a line down the middle of your board at the 10. It’s hard to see in the image, but I did the grid from 1-10 in black and from 11-18 in blue. Why? This helps get children thinking in terms of sets of tens. This is helpful for math later as children learn to “carry” and “borrow” or regroup. Finally, I covered my board in clear plastic tape, but I would recommend laminating if possible.

I also made my strips 2 cm by 2cm for each square. So, my “1” strips are 2 cm by 2 cm and my “2” strips are 2 cm by 4 cm, and so on and so forth. I measured and showed divisions in each of my strips so that Peanut can see there are 4 squares in the “4” strips. Each strip only has one number at the end of the strip.

Presenting the addition strip board

It’s easy to present the board. I started by teaching Peanut how to set up the board. We did it together. I set up one set of numbers on the right side and he set up the other set on the left side. Then, I showed him a problem. For example, you could start with 2+5 = ____. I simply stated the problem. Then, I pointed to the number 2 again and said “2” while picking out the blue 2. I placed the 2 on the board in the top left-hand corner. Then, I said “plus 5” and selected the 5 from the red set. I set the 5 right next to the 2. Then, I said “equals” and pointed to the number 5 above the red strip and said “7.” I wrote in the answer, 7.

Then, we practiced doing a few problems together and I helped him write his answers. Sometimes he practiced writing the numbers in rice before using a pencil to write them on his worksheet. Now, he can do the problems on his own! It’s been a great addition to our DIY Montessori homeschooling materials.

Are you ready to make an addition strip board? Tell me about how you’re doing with math in the comments below.


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