Golden Bead Quilt

I am very excited to share my latest crafty creation. This was a project given to me by my son’s Montessori teacher. She saw a photo of a cool mat in Tomorrow’s Child magazine (Winter 2008, in a section about the Bank Game on page 21), published by The Montessori Foundation, and was hoping I could recreate it. I could not find something similar for sale anywhere! I did find it in one place – a Montessori school that apparently sold different handmade materials as a fundraiser for their school. However, you could only purchase it from their catalog, and their website did not give any size specifications for the mat. So, I used the picture in the magazine, which had two children using the mat, as a way to guesstimate size. And then I went from there in designing it.

I am very proud of how it turned out! It’s about 24″ x 28″. The top set of green squares are 7.5″ wide, the red squares are 6″ wide, the blue squares 4.5″ and the bottom green squares are 3″. I then quilted across the squares at 1.5″ intervals. So, the top green square has 5 lines, red has 4 lines, blue has 3 lines, and bottom green has 2 lines. This is all bordered by some black stripes and borders, and the backing is black. I used black double-fold bias tape to finish the edges.

I also made 5″x5″ operator squares out of cream colored wool felt, with the various colors for plus, minus, multiply and divide. These colors are specific to the Montessori lessons, as I understand it from my teacher.

You use the mat with the golden bead materials. For example, a child would pick a card with a number on it like 3,456. In the top green square, the child would place 3 thousand cubes. In the red square, the child would place 4 hundred pieces. In the blue square, the child would place 5 tens, and in the small green square, the child would place 6 beads. Then, from this basis, the child can add and subtract. The black border separating the second and third rows acts as an equal sign.

I’m not a Montessori teacher, so I’m not sure I’ve even explained this very well (or correctly)! The article in the magazine (conveniently their sample issue right now) explains it much better, I’m sure. But, in general, I’m very happy with how the quilt turned out and I’m excited to hear how the children enjoy using it this year!

I got a new even feed walking foot for my sewing machine a few months ago, and this was the first time I had used it. It’s awesome! I can’t believe I didn’t have one before! It really does feed the fabric through evenly (LOL) so that it doesn’t get bunchy, and when you get back around to where you started, you don’t have those pinches of fabric. Cool, wonder what I can quilt next?


8 Responses

  1. I’m not totally sure I totally understand the purpose of the quilt, but it is striking! I know it has educational value, but I’m just taken with the colors! I spent 3 years in Kentucky and there was a huge Amish community. It reminds me of the Amish quilts…the black with the deep, rich jewel tones. It looks great…bravo 🙂

  2. I didn’t explain it well because I don’t understand it too well, LOL. You use it with the golden beads, which are a standard Montessori math material. I think it is important to have these beautiful things for our children to use as they learn. Won’t it be more fun to do this “work” (as they call it in Montessori) with this quilt, than if it was just on some sort of cardstock or paperboard? I had so much fun making it and can’t wait for the teacher to present it and the kids to start using it! And my first chance to use my even feed foot! Hooray!

    • your son’s teachers are lucky to have a mom who creates beautiful work for the kids to learn. awesome!

  3. oh wow, what a great idea with the mat! We’re homeschooling our daughter with a mostly montessori influence (and some unschooling mixed in) and I think this would be awesome for her math lessons as she gets older!

    thanks for the comment on my blog, too! When I was filling out that meme that mentions metro beach, I googled it to see what town it was actually in, and they mentioned swimming as one of the activities available, haha!!! I suppose they could have a pool, though *Grin* 😀

  4. Hi,
    I am a Montessori teacher. Your mats look great.
    Are they for sale?

  5. This is awesome!!! My son’s Montessori teacher has asked me to do a quilting demo for his class. I am going to borrow your design (if you don’t mind) and present this to his class when I do my presentation! Thank you so much for sharing!!

    • I’m glad that you liked it. I know that my son’s teachers enjoyed having it all of these years for golden bead work. It will be a lovely gift for your son’s classroom.

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