We were counting in tens last week using beans on craft sticks. I first demonstrated making a set by squeezing out a line of glue along the center of the craft stick, then I placed ten pink beans along its length. My students were given craft sticks, glue, and beans, and they worked on their own sets.
From this activity, their knowledge of the place value system of grouping in tens was reinforced (they are accustomed to using the Dienes blocks) and they were able to see that this was another way of showing grouping to one hundred. We used them to count in tens, and we also used them as counters for some addition and subtraction. For older students I could have also used them for demonstrating the 10 times tables.
We made them on Monday and left them to dry (the glue). From Tuesday and onward, they were dry and ready to be used.
I used craft sticks from Bazic, these are cheaper and just the right size (the pink beans fit well with them). We call these craft sticks ‘palette sticks’ but you may know them by another name. I also have the plain wooden kind that is not painted but for this project, I chose to use the colorful version to make it more appealing for my students.