If You Give a Kid an Abacus, She’ll Want to Count

Those who know me are aware of the fact that I lack confidence when it comes to math. I would rather watch reality television than engage in addition, subtraction, division, or multiplication. When we agreed to embark upon this homeschooling journey it was with the understanding that my husband would take on the math part of our homeschooling curriculum.

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So why do I loathe math so? It’s simple, it’s boring! At least the way it was taught to me. None of my teachers ever introduced me to the wacky, yet interesting, math tricks like the secrets of Pascal’s Triangle, and how to remember numbers. Math memories for me involve Mr. King taking points off because I was not using a number 3 pencil or because I forgot to underline the answer…. Combine that with a college diagnosis of Dyscalculia, and numbers have always been the bane of my existence.

However, the one good thing that I remember is playing math games with my abacus when I was five or six. I had black wooden one and my mom and I would play counting games and I thought it was the coolest thing int he world. I have wanted to buy one for my daughter, but they seemed overpriced and a bit boring so I put it out of my mind. That is until Monday. We took a family trip to Barnes and Nobel and my daughter asked if we could buy Disney Faries Tinkerbell Magazine. And in it was the instructions for making a calendar abacus out of a cereal box. I made a few changes and VOILA, we had a brand new abacus.

What You Need:

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How You Do It:

Have your little one (mine is 4 (almost 5)) choose 10 different color beads and then 10 of each color. Sort beads into ten piles by color. While he/she does this, tape the Fed-Ex mailer closed on the sides using the duct tape. Then, if you are reusing a box, cut along the plastic label (see left). If you are not reusing a box, you want to cut a rectangle that is about 9 inches X 6 inches. on the left side of the space mark 10 lines.

Tie the ends of each piece of yarn making knots large enough to prevent the beads from sliding off. Have your child assist you in stringing the beads onto the string. Knot the other end as well. Stretch each beaded yarn piece across the box, spacing the yarn according to where you have marked the 10 lines. Wrap the yarn around the box and tightly not the ends so that the yarn does not slack. When done tape the yarn on the left and right of the open space. Wrap the entire box with the decorative duct tape. And to your child’s name, cut a piece of cardboard in half (we used the middle piece from the box) and cover with a piece of construction paper that matches your duct tape. The stick it to the top half of the abacus and write whatever you want. Tada! All done.

And if you make one, please share! We’d love to see it. What crafty things do you do?

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4 comments

  1. Yes!!! its great idea, the mind of kids will grow faster, even what I personally feel the kids should learn abacus maths skills in early ages so that they can grow more faster and smarter and may be faster then a calculator device.

    Cheers!!!

  2. […] putting The Tornado in school, at least until we get through the murkiness of phonics and early math. Each time I think about it, I have a fear. It’s a nightmare, actually, and it plagues my […]

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