Introducing the Large Number Cards

The Large Number Cards are a Montessori Mathematics material which are used to introduce young children to the decimal system.

The material consists of four sets of cards which represent the different categories of numbers in the ‘base ten’ or decimal system. The smallest numbers, 1 – 9, are referred to as ‘units’, and are printed green on small wooden cards. Next, the numbers 10 to 90 by tens are printed in blue, numbers 100 to 900 by hundreds are in red, and 1,000 to 9,000 by thousands are in green.

These wooden cards are kept in an open wooden container on the Mathematics curriculum shelves.


The key aim of the Large Number Cards is to help children recognise the written numerical symbols for each category of the decimal system.

As they work with the material, they also discover that if we count beyond the number nine in a decimal category, we continue counting in the next highest category.

Montessori students are introduced to the Large Number Cards from the age of four years old. Prior to this lesson, children will have worked on Montessori materials which introduce and strengthen the recognition of number from one to nine. They will also be familiar with the concept of zero.

The introduction to this new material is often accompanied by the Golden Beads, another Montessori Mathematics material. The beads physically represent each unit, helping children visually quantify each amount.

Presentation: Counting the Large Number Cards

  • Invite the child to come work with you, and guide them to the Mathematics curriculum area.
  • Identify the Large Number Cards, and bring the material to a table.
  • Taking the ‘1’ unit number card, place it at the top right corner. Count the card aloud using its category name: “one unit”.
  • Continue placing and counting the unit cards vertically until the ‘9’ card is reached.
  • Next, take the ‘10’ number card, and place it to the left of the ‘1’ unit number card. Count the card aloud using its category name: “one ten”.
  • Continue placing and counting the tens cards vertically until the ‘90’ card is reached.
  • Count out the hundreds and thousands card in the same manner.
  • After laying out and counting all cards, show the child how to pack away the material by putting them away in their categories, starting with the thousands.
  • Place the material back onto the Mathematics shelves.

Extension: Identifying Numbers

  • Once the Large Number Cards have been counted out, provide the child with an empty tray.
  • Say a number to the child, and ask them to make the corresponding number with the cards.
  • Alternatively, ask the child to make a number and read it aloud./li>


If you would like to watch this material presentation in action at a Montessori Academy centre, head to our Youtube Channel, where our Gymea Montessori Teacher guides a student through this activity.