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The Abacus

by Early Math Counts

An abacus is an ancient counting tool that has been used all over the world, for centuries, primarily in Asia.  The frame is traditionally made of wood with wire or small wooden rods running through it.  On each of the rods there are beads that move from one side to the other. Children being using an abacus by moving the beads from one side to the other and counting them as they go.

abacusThe abacus pictured above is designed for an early childhood environment.  This one has 10 rows of 10 beads.  An abacus designed for older children or adults provides “decks” or separate areas to represent place value.

Since children take in information through their sense of touch (as well as their other senses), the abacus makes good sense.  It reinforces one-to-one correspondence and number sense.

Did you know that blind children all around the world learn mathematics with an abacus?

8 Replies to “The Abacus”

  1. The abacus is probably one of the most underutilized toys or games that we have in our classroom.

    1. I know. I think that children would really enjoy it. Try teaching them a little bit about how it works and see if it garners some more interest.

  2. I agree that the abacus is underutilized. As a child, I remember how much I enjoyed using the abacus.

  3. I might try to see if after counting with their eyes open they can try closing their eyes and counting.

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