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Homemade Abacus


Homemade Abacus

What to do with this activity?

Ever heard of an abacus? It's a tool for counting and doing sums that was around hundreds of years before calculators or computers. For your child it can become a toy that will make counting fun. At first your child might like to push the beads up and down, and that's a good start. 

You can buy an abacus in a toy shop or early learning centre, or you can make one at home. 

All you need is a cardboard box (perhaps an old shoe box), some string or bamboo skewers, and colourful medium sized beads. Watch this short video from Turltleandbuddys website - it will give you ideas you can adapt. 

Have a look at this video of a little boy learning to add and subtract on an abacus. When your child is a little older you can encourage their adding and subtracting like this. An abacus can be used for much more complicated sums, but that's for the future.


  • Why am I doing this?

    Maths is more than working with numbers. It also consists of shape and space, patterns, measuring – things you do and come across in everyday life. When children begin to learn formal maths at school, they are building on a foundation of early numeracy learning from home. Even though they may not even be aware of it, parents and children engage in numeracy activity as part of their everyday lives.

  • How can I do more?

    Always teach numbers in a natural way through everyday activities and play. Count steps on a stairs, food in your shopping trolley or cows in a field.  Compare things when talking big or small, long or short, older or younger and faster or slower: “You carry the small box and I’ll take the big one.” Use the words – up and down, over and under, near or far, more or less when talking to your child. Talk about the shapes of everyday things. Ask your child what shapes they can see around the room they’re in.

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