Make Your Own Abacus!

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What You Need:

  • Pencil
  • 9 craft 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:

  1. Lay three craft 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 craft sticks.
  2. Take the bamboo skewers and align them with the pencil marks. There should be one craft stick at each end of the skewers. The third craft stick should be in the middle, about 1 inch away from one of craft sticks on the end.
  3. Put a thin line of glue on each of the pencil lines you've drawn.
  4. 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-inch 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.
  5. Glue three craft 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.
  6. Glue the last three craft sticks on top of the sticks you've just glued down. Let dry.
  7. 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 craft 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 homemade abacus to practice important math skills! The abacus is a great tool to visually teach your child about addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and even place value.

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