Thousand Chain

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Thousand Chain
Math - Linear Counting
Thousand Chain.JPG
Age4.5 - 5
PrerequisitesHundred Chain
MaterialsThousand Chain
10 hundred squares
1 thousand cube
pointer for counting
long mat (30' long)

This activity teaches the child skip counting which is preparation for multiplication. It also indirectly prepares the child to understand cubing numbers.


  1. Show the child how to carry the chain by looping a segment between the hundreds over each finger.
    Thousand Chain 1.JPG Thousand Chain 1-3.JPG
  2. Lay out the chain on a long mat as shown. Bring the thousand cube, the 10 hundred squares, the labels, and the counter.
    Thousand Chain 2.JPG
  3. Have one person hold one end of the chain in place while the other person holds the opposite end and stretches the chain down the length of the mat.
    Thousand Chain 3.JPG Thousand Chain 4.JPG
  4. Fold the bead bars as shown to form squares of 100.
    Thousand Chain 5.JPG Thousand Chain 6.JPG
  5. Set the hundred squares on top to show that they are the same.
    Thousand Chain 7.JPG Thousand Chain 7-2.JPG
  6. Stack the hundred squares next to the thousand cube to show that they are the same.
    Thousand Chain 8.JPG
  7. Stretch the chain back out again. Sort the labels into columns (1-10 together, 20-100 together, 110-200 together, etc.).
    Thousand Chain 9.JPG
  8. Count and place labels as you go.
    Thousand Chain 10.JPG
  9. Move the mat with the labels with you as you work.
    Thousand Chain 11.JPG
  10. 100, 200, 300, etc. get red labels. The 1000 label at the end is green. The colors correspond to the ones used on the decimal cards.
    Thousand Chain 12.JPG
  11. Walk the length of the completed chain and read the numbers on the labels.
    Thousand Chain 13.JPG Thousand Chain 13-2.JPG

Points of Interest

Control of Error

  • Using the labels to keep track

Variations and Extensions

  • Count the chain backwards: "1000, 999, 998..."
  • Count the whole thing by tens: "10, 20, 30, 40..."
  • Count backwards by tens: "1000, 990, 980..."
  • The child could write their own labels


Make Your Own

Where to Buy

Prices and links checked: 23 January 2022

Thousand Chain Mat
Store Price
Alison's $32.91
Montessori Services $75.00
Thinkamajigs $35.95

Further Reading