I was so fortunate to study with Rebeca and Mauricio Wild, two of the world’s foremost educators for child-directed learning residing in Ecuador. During each of their seminars we worked with math hands-on learning materials, and one of the many materials they showed us was the Taptana, a calculator that is thousands of years old and was developed by the Inca people.

it consists of a wooden board with wholes (there must be at least 10 wholes) and beads in the Montessori colors. Here it is:

As you see on the photo below, each whole and each bead have a specific value:

Each green bead is worth 1

Each blue bead is worth 10

Each red bead is worth 100

Each yellow bead is worth 1,000

Each light blue bead is worth 10,000

Each orange bead is worth 100,000

Depending on where we place a bead its value changes.

For instance a green bead (worth 1) is worth 1 in the whole labelled 1,

it’s worth 2 in the whole labelled 2,

it’s worth 3 in the whole labelled 3,

it’s worth 4 in the whole labelled 4, and so on.

A blue bead (worth 10) is worth 10 in the whole labelled 10,

it’s worth 20 in the whole labelled 2,

it’s worth 30 in the whole labelled 3,

it’s worth 40 in the whole labelled 4, and so on.

A red bead (worth 100) is worth 100 in the whole labelled 1,

it’s worth 200 in the whole labelled 2,

it’s worth 300 in the whole labelled 3

it’s worth 400 in the whole labelled 4, and so on.

This way it works for each bead…for instance, an orange bead (worth 100,000) is worth 900,000 in the whole labelled 9. I guess you can see where this is going…..Can you imagine the possibilities ?

Practice recognizing the value of beads simply by laying various beads on the board. On the photo below which value do you see ?

Here’s the value for the left side: 526, 840

What’s the value on the right side? Comment below 🙂

Stay posted … soon I will publish a blog on how to do addition with the Taptana….or can you guess?

With smiles,

Carmen Gamper

newlearningculture.com