Craft Your Own Abacus!
Looking for another way to practice basic math skills? If so, an abacus might be able to help. Countries around the world have been using the abacus throughout history to make math problems easier to visualize and calculate. Even children who claim to hate math will be fascinated by this old-fashioned but simple tool. Here's an activity that has your child creating his very own abacus with only a few simple supplies! The abacus is surprisingly easy to make and is great for visual and tactile learners.
What You Need:
- 9 popsicle sticks
- 56 large pony beads
- 8 4-inch bamboo skewers (if yours are longer, you can cut them to the right length)
- Wood glue
What You Do:
- Lay three popsicle sticks down so they are parallel. Use the pencil to draw eight matching lines on each stick, evenly spaced and centered across the length of the popsicle sticks.
- Take the bamboo skewers and align them with the pencil marks. There should be one popsicle stick at each end of the skewers. The third popsicle stick should be in the middle, about 1" away from the one of the end popsicle sticks.
- Put a thin line of glue on each of the pencil lines you've drawn.
- Carefully thread seven beads on each of the eight skewers. Place the skewers on the glue lines, arranging the beads so that two beads fall into the 1" space between the two closely placed sticks and the other five fall into the larger space between the middle and end sticks.
- Let the sticks dry.
- Glue three popsicle sticks on top of the bamboo skewers so they line up with the sticks below, taking care to keep the beads divided. Let the sticks dry.
- Glue the last three popsicle sticks on top of the sticks you've just glued down; let dry.
- Flip the abacus over so that the stacked sticks are on the bottom. Depending on the size of the beads, you may have to add more popsicle sticks to the bottom. The stacked sticks let the beads slide smoothly on the skewers and prevent them from scraping along the surface you're working on.
Now your child has a home-made abacus to learn math with! The abacus is a great tool to visually teach your child about addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and place value.