Spindle Boxes

From Montessori Album
Spindle Boxes
Math - Numbers 0-10
Spindle Boxes 7.JPG
Age3.5 - 4
PrerequisitesNumber Rods
Sandpaper Numerals
Number Rods With Numerals
Materialsspindle boxes
45 identical spindles
container for spindles

This activity lets the child practice associating the numerals and quantities 0-9.


  1. Carry the material to a mat or large table.
    Spindle Boxes 1.jpg
  2. Point to the zero. "Zero means nothing. We don't put anything in here."
    Spindle Boxes 2.JPG
  3. Point to the 1. "How many does it say to put in here?"
    Spindle Boxes 3.JPG
  4. Put one spindle in the space.
    Spindle Boxes 4.JPG
  5. Point to the 2. "How many does it say to put in here?"
    Spindle Boxes 5.JPG
  6. Put two spindles in the space.
    Spindle Boxes 6.JPG
  7. Continue like this until all of the spaces have the appropriate number of spindles.
    Spindle Boxes 7.JPG
  8. "Let's see how many are left in the box...Zero!"
    Spindle Boxes 8.JPG

Points of Interest

  1. The concept of the number zero representing none.

Control of Error

  • There are exactly enough spindles to complete the work. If at the end there are not enough, or if there are extra left over the child will know that there is a mistake.

Variations and Extensions

Variation 1: Count each spindle as they are replaced in the box and point out the numeral again.

Variation 2: Ask the students to count the total quantity of spindles as they are replaced in the box (45).


Direct Aim:

  1. To show the collection of quatities into the single set.
  2. To show the sequence of nine
  3. To show zero as an empty set
  4. To show nine as the first group in our decimal system, not ten.

Indirect Aim:

  1. Use of nines
  2. Ten is a new level


The material consists of two wooden boxes with five long compartments in each. The back of each compartment has a numeral printed on it. Zero to four are in the first box and five to nine are in the second box. The container has forty-five wooden spindles total.

Make Your Own

  • This version was made by gluing segments of cardboard tube onto two narrow boards. The numerals were written on cards with a marker and glued to the front. The spindles were made from sticks cut to the same length.
    SB homemade 2.jpg SB homemade 1.JPG
    Source:Montessori on a Budget
  • This version was made from two cardboard boxes with balsa wood dividers hot-glued in place. The spindles are popsicle sticks.
    SB DIY.jpg
    Source:What DID We Do All Day?
  • This was made from a wooden tray with balsa-wood slats glued in as dividers.
    Maybe Mntsr spindlebox.jpg
    (For a more detailed description of how this was done, see Maybe Montessori.)
  • This one was made out of cloth and can be rolled up for storage or travel.
    54mama spindle box 1.jpg 54mama spindle box 2.jpg
    Source: 54 Stitches

Where to Buy

Boxes with Spindles
1montessori (ATXinventor @Etsy) $14.50 (pre-cut parts to assemble)
Absorbent Montessori $40.99
Adena $22.15
Adena $23.32
Affordable Montessori $45.00
Affordable Montessori $59.00
Albanesi $49.00 (spindles not included)
Alison's $36.00
Alison's $75.00
Best Montessori Toys $20.95
Bruin's $95.00
E & O $98.00
Hello Wood $109.00
IFIT $27.00
IFIT $11.00 (small)
Kid Advance $26.99
Materials Company of Boston $90.00
Montessori Concepts $25.00
Montessori N' Such $65.00
Montessori Outlet $32.95 (print)
Montessori Outlet $32.95 (cursive)
Nienhuis $115.00 (USA print)
Nienhuis $115.00 (print)
Nienhuis $115.00 (cursive)
Thinkamajigs $43.95
Etsy prices vary

Box of 45 Spindles
Adena $14.58
Albanesi $65.00
Bruin's $8.00
IFIT $16.00
Thinkamajigs $26.95

10 Replacement Spindles
Affordable Montessori $5.00
Kid Advance $3.99
Montessori Outlet $3.95
Nienhuis $15.00

Individual Spindle
Adena $0.47
Alison's $1.50
Bruin's $1.00
Hello Wood $0.50
Materials Company of Boston $0.70
Montessori Concepts $0.50
Thinkamajigs $0.40

Box for Spindles
Affordable Montessori $10.00
Kid Advance $7.99
Materials Company of Boston $13.00
Montessori Outlet $8.95
Nienhuis $18.90
Thinkamajigs $17.95

Further Reading