The Warlord’s Beads Math Activity is a great book-based STEM activity that introduces kids to place value. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
I first discovered The Warlord’s Beads on a trip to the library over ten years ago. I was in the thick of homeschooling a dozen kids. I am a sucker for any good book that shares math concepts without it feeling like a math lesson. The Warlord’s series fits the bill perfectly.
The Warlord’s Book Series
This Warlord’s series is one of the best series I have found for weaving math into engaging stories without it feeling contrived. These books have beautiful illustrations and compelling storylines. In the back of each book are activities to go along with the story. When I first introduced this activity to my children, the older kids expanded on the idea and created a thousandth’s place as well.
A clear sign that they have mastered the concept.
Supplies Needed for Warlord’s Beads Math Activity
cardboard (I used a cereal box) scissors
I’ve learned a few things about these activities (both from experience and Montessori blogs) and that is to have everything laid out that is needed for a particular project and to have a sample provided. Yes, this takes time and energy on my part. But I’ve also found a direct correlation between the time I invest in these projects, and the energy and enjoyment of my children. I have yet to lay out a well-planned project and have my children ignore it. They may spend anywhere from ten minutes to ten days on a given project, depending on age, interest level, and mastery.
How to Introduce the Activity
I like to keep this simple. First I read the book aloud (often more than once) and then I introduce the prepared activity. When my kids were younger, we had our home set up in a child-friendly, Montessori style. This worked well for our variety of ages. To prepare this activity, I cut out the cardboard frames and placed them, along with pre-cut pipe cleaners, pony beads, and tape along with the book in a wooden box. These rested on a shelf so any of the children could get the box down and work on this independently. If you have younger kids, I definitely recommend pre-cutting the pipe cleaners and cardboard.
Apollo is very familiar with this book, we’ve read it dozens of times. When he came home from school and saw I had this activity laid out, he immediately asked if he could make his own counting frame. This just goes to show, these books just don’t ever lose their magic.
If you enjoyed this, be sure and check out these other Stem activities:
The Warlord’s Fish will teach kids how to make a real, working compass.
Introducing the Pythagorean Theorem to kids with these fun activities.