How to Use an Abacus:
Free Video Guides Below!
If you have kids, you should have an abacus. That’s a bold statement but I truly believe it. The abacus is a fun, needed, and beneficial daily tool in our homeschool preschool curriculum. Families that are not doing homeschool preschool should have one also. Why? Because it makes math a concrete learning lesson, instead of an abstract one. A child’s brain begins grasping concrete facts much earlier than abstract ones. It does not matter to me if a child can recite memorized numbers if they do not understand the value of those numbers, or how to apply them. Friends have been amazed that my 2 year old can count bead upon bead using the abacus. By age 3 kids can be doing addition and subtraction using it. But I do NOT use the abacus to make my kids learn. I use they abacus because it makes my kids WANT and LOVE to learn! Math is a beautiful and amazing subject matter. An abacus makes math come alive for little hands to hold, count, touch, understand, build upon, and soar with!! Free Video Guides Below!
After so many requests, here’s everything a beginner needs to know about how to use an abacus with children. Free Video Guides Below!
What is the abacus? A counting tool used in mathematics.
Where can I buy an abacus (right here, affiliate link):
How long will it last? I would only buy a quality wood model like the one above. I bought this same exact model above and have had it over 7 years. It’s lasted through six home preschool kids (3 of those kids were mine) and the abacus is still in perfect shape.
What age child can use the abacus? All ages! I start using them by age 1, or as soon as the child can sit up and reach for objects.
Examples of how I have used the abacus at home with each age: (Free Video Guides Below!)
* 1 yr old: For a “busy baby tray” item while in high chair. Use it to learn color identification and counting. At first she only grunts as she slides each bead across the rod. But soon she is counting each bead right along with her big sisters.
* 2 yr old: Begin using the abacus to count as she slides beads across the bar. Begin just learning how to count, the names of numbers, and sliding the beads across while counting. Work up to simple counting games. Ask for 1 bead, or 5 beads, as skills develop. Make up fun games like, “I want 3 red beads, can you slide me them?”
* 3 yr old: I begin teaching 1:1 correspondence. This means that for every bead moved, it gets 1 number value. I have tried for many years, and the best expression my kids understand is when I say it like this, “When counting, you get to have 1 touch for 1 count.” That means that they can only give a number counting value for the beads they actually touch. This is a required mathematical counting skill that will be needed as they count objects in kindergarten. My free video below shows you how to teach 1:1 correspondence.
* 4 yr old: Solidify the 1:1 correspondence skill. Begin number value skills. Such as matching 8 raisins to 8 beads moved on the abacus. If number value skills are solid, progress to addition first, and then subtraction. My videos below give helpful ideas on how we did this.
* 5 yr old: Begin kindergarten or higher curriculum for math. Use the abacus as a helpful tool. It will make skip counting, even vs. odd numbers, addition and subtraction come alive in a concrete and fun way! Make up number games with the abacus such as, “I’m thinking of a number that uses 2 full rows, and 4 “ones”. What number is it?” Have them show you on the abacus and then give their answer. Let them make up games and play with them!
Here are some helpful videos that I made to give families free ideas on how to use the abacus. Please share with parents or care givers of preschool age children. I do this for free because I LOVE learning alongside my kids. Even If your kids are not homeschooled or home preschooled, do they bring home math worksheets? Instead of just doing a “worksheet” use the abacus to help the math concepts become concrete for them. It will build a foundation that will last for life.
Our family phrase is, “Math is Fun! Math makes sense! If it is not fun and does not make sense, then we need to look at it from another angle.”
Math inherently makes sense. There are so many patterns and games that can be found in math. Is your child stuck on the abstract idea of odd vs. even numbers? A worksheet may not help. But, take an hour from your day, grab a piece of chalk. Go to the sidewalk and make a hopscotch grid. Only hop on the odd numbers, then only hop on the even numbers. Bring your abacus with you! “Hop” with your fingers by counting out a pattern of odd and even numbers. By the time you finish these concrete methods, your child will not only understand math, but love it. I know we all do!! Free Video Guides Below!
Here’s some ways we use the Abacus at home for homeschool preschool. Watch them in order because they build upon each other:
How to teach 1:1 Correspondence (age 3yr old):
How to teach a child to understand number value (3 yr):
Introducing the Abacus for Addition (3yr):
How to use raisins (or any counting stones), an abacus, and numbers to fully learn a number value and how to manipulate number values (3yr):
Thank you for watching and sharing how we love using the Abacus at home to make math come alive. There are SO many ways you can use the abacus, and all can be fun!
How do you use the abacus at home?