Addition Snake Game

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Addition Snake Game
Math - Memory Work
Positive Snake Game 10.JPG
MaterialsSnake Game Set
counting pointer

This activity teaches the child that when we add up smaller numbers we recombine them into groups of 10. This helps prepare the child to do Multiplication With Bead Bars.
I've put in instructions for the traditional version of the lesson first, but I think it works far better when done with math blocks. Pictures for this are show farther down.


  1. Take the material to a mat or table. If at a table, a table mat will be needed.
    Positive Snake Game 1.JPG
  2. Remove the black and white bead bars from the box and place them randomly on the mat. Then, starting with the 1 bead, arrange them in a bead stair.
    Positive Snake Game 2.JPG Positive Snake Game 3.JPG
  3. Leave the first box open. Open the next box and remove some colored bead bars and place them randomly on the mat. (For the first presentation, use one of each plus an extra 5 bar so the number will come out even.) Then, put the lid back on the middle box and arrange the colored bead bars in a gently curving line.
    Positive Snake Game 4.JPG Positive Snake Game 5.JPG
  4. Begin counting the bead bars from the left and stop when you get to ten.
    Positive Snake Game 6.JPG
  5. Leave the counter where it is to hold your place. Get a ten bar from the third box and set it along the top of the bead you have just counted. Count the remaining beads on the bead bar on which you stopped.
    Positive Snake Game 7.JPG
  6. Place the appropriate bead bar from the black and white bead stair to hold the place for the remaining beads on the other bead bar.
    Positive Snake Game 8.JPG
  7. Place the counted bead bars in the box for the black and white bead bars.
    Positive Snake Game 9.JPG
  8. Continue counting tens starting with the black bead bar.
    Positive Snake Game 10.JPG
  9. Replace with ten bars as you go.
    Positive Snake Game 11.JPG
  10. Continue until all of the bead bars have been replaced with ten bars.
    Positive Snake Game 12.JPG
  11. To check your work, take the bead bars out of the box.
    Positive Snake Game 13.JPG
  12. Place the tens vertically in a row.
    Positive Snake Game 14.JPG
  13. Take one of the bead bars and place it next to the first ten bar.
    Positive Snake Game 15.JPG
  14. Count how many more beads are needed to make ten.
    Positive Snake Game 16.JPG
  15. Add the complementary bead bar.
    Positive Snake Game 17.JPG
  16. Continue matching tens in this way.
    Positive Snake Game 18.JPG

Points of Interest

Control of Error

Variations and Extensions


The Addition Snake Game material consists of three boxes of bead bars on a small tray. The first box is black with a white lid and holds the black and white bead stair. The second box is red and holds several of each of the colored bead bars. The third box is gold and holds a number of ten bars.
Black & White bead stair.JPG Box of colored bead bars.JPG Box of ten bars.JPG
This lesson works much better with fused beads rather than beads that are strung on wire. This makes it much easier to see what bead bars are equivalent without the wire ends getting in the way.

Mortensen Blocks

Another alternative is to do the activity with Mortensen Math blocks rather than with the traditional bead bars. Doing this makes it very easy to see that the line of bead bars is equivalent to the tens.
(For more on using math blocks in place of bead bars, see the essay Mortensen Instead by Judith Townsend.)
Mortensen Snake Game 1-1.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 1-2.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 1-3.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 1-4.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 1-5.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 1-6.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 1-7.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 1-8.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 1-9.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 1-10.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 1-11.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 1-12.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 1-13.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 1-14.JPG
Mortensen Snake Game 2-1.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 2-2.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 2-3.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 2-4.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 2-5.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 2-6.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 2-7.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 2-8.JPG Mortensen Snake Game 2-9.JPG

Where to Buy

Prices and links checked: 23 January 2022

Addition Snake Game
Store Price
Adena $44.96
Affordable Montessori $49.00
Albanesi $80.00
fused beads
Alison's $44.10
Bruins $115.00
E & O $70.20
IFIT $2.00
Kid Advance $45.99
Montessori Concepts $42.00
Montessori Outlet $39.95
Pink Montessori $32.50
Thinkamajigs $52.95
glass beads
nylon beads

Further Reading