Essential in the design of Montessori materials is the need to entice the child to work. The Snake Game is a perfect example of the wonder intrinsic in these materials, even in seemingly simple concepts. Here, children build a snake from any combination of colored beads from the number stair. After constructing their colored snake, children trade out beads in sets of ten, internalizing the multiple combinations of single digit numbers that can add up to ten. Unlike the combinations of ten children have completed earlier with the Number Rods, here, children can combine three or even four digits, like 1+2+3+4=10. With each combination, the colored snake slowly becomes more golden until the complete snake is built in gold.
The material includes three boxes: one with five golden ten bars, one with a bead stair constructed of black and white combination beads demonstrating the cumulative nature of the quantities, and a traditional bead stair with beads from 1-9 and an extra 5 bar (to assure the control of error: any combination of these beads will result in a total of 50). From here, children can explore multiple combinations and build snakes of their own design.
These materials make the concepts of the base ten system increasingly abstract until children are able to recall quickly various quantities and their combinations, while the child enjoys the transformation of each snake. Beauty + wonder + science = a magical combination.