6 Interesting Abacus Activities for Preschoolers and Kindergarteners

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When you have a nursery kid at home, much of your time is likely to get consumed in attempts to either enhance their familiarity with the world around them or to expand learning experience. However, actualizing this is not a piece of cake in reality. 

Kids tend to have an extremely short attention span, which is why capturing their interests is one big challenge in itself. Nevertheless, there are a few things you can do to make learning all the more fun for preschoolers and kindergarteners. One such way is introducing them to the Abacus. 

Though Abacus is a manual counting frame meant for children aged above five, there are certain amusing yet thought-provoking abacus activities that can contribute to the overall growth of tiny tots as well.

Why You Should Introduce Your Kid to Abacus Activities?

It’s a well-known fact that toddlers or kindergarteners do not like to sit idle for a single second while they’re awake. They seek continuous involvement in something or the other. As a parent or a guardian, it is undeniably your responsibility to keep pace with it and help your kid explore the outside world.

1. Encourages kids to be inquisitive

When you introduce kids to abacus activities, they focus more on independent investigation owing to their curious nature. By asking kids to use activities to learn abacus, you are encouraging them to be independently inquisitive, make use of their critical thinking, and most importantly, learn from their experiences.

2. Improvement of Social Skills

When conducting a fun learning-based abacus activity in the classroom or with a group of kids, you are allowing the activities to be a channel to the social development of the children. This is because while playing around with the activities, the kids will interact with each other and the teacher in the classroom, and develop teamwork which will later help them in social and professional circles.

3. Test and Improve Abacus Skills

Activities can be an engaging way to improve a child’s existing abacus skills. Testing a kid’s abacus skills using abacus learning activities can be a way to scrutinize the weak points and the strengths of the kid. This way, you can focus on a more strategized approach to teaching them abacus so that they are not lagging behind in any aspect of operating the tool.

Introduction to Abacus Activities can be an outstanding practice to get started on this. These would include a list of exciting and productive exercises that you can rely on while allowing your child to better process or organize thoughts. 

Fun Abacus Activities For The Little Ones

Let us now take a closer look into what exactly can a preschooler do with an Abacus. Below is a list of 7 fun activities that can possibly keep your child engaged throughout in addition to developing their brainpower: 

1. Guess the Color Game

Children are naturally attracted to vibrant colors, and the Abacus by default is designed in a way that it instantly grabs a child’s attention. For this reason, it can be used for a wonderful activity of guessing the colors. You may ask your little one to sort and arrange the beads of a specific color.

 Guess the Color Game

For instance, you can ask them to arrange the beads in the yellow abacus or ask them to count the number of yellow beads in the frame. This way they do not just learn the concept of numbers but also colors.

It becomes super-fun for them to guess, recognize and identify various colors and learn along the way. Learning through visualization leaves imprints in the minds of youngsters and helps them remember those colors the next time they come across them. 

2. The Counting Game

Being a math tool at the end of the day, the Abacus can lay a stronger foundation of the ‘numbers’ in the junior minds. With movable beads, counting can be much more intriguing for kids than you might expect it to be. Counting is indeed the most basic math ability. So, what could be better than your child making their way into math by nailing “counting” with a fun game?

The Counting Game

Shift the beads from left to right slowly so that your child observes the number of beads moved and left behind. Now, ask him to move the exact same number and let him count the ones left. You can also teach him to skip count by twos, fives, and tens. Understanding the process at a young age can boost confidence and provide clarity of the concept. This way, it gets much easier to learn than by working on sheets of paper. 

3. Match The Pattern

Younger kids tend to possess seemingly unbelievable imagination skills. Given the right canvas, they can go on to paint their minds and hearts out amazingly. The Abacus can be one such canvas. 

You may create beautiful patterns with the beads and ask your child to observe closely. Next, it will be their turn to imitate the process and match your designs. Kids would love to create patterns, designs, shapes, alphabets, and numbers using the beads of the counting frame. Match The Pattern can be a great mind exercise to augment their creativity. 

4. Understanding Money

One of the easiest ways to explain currency to your child is via an abacus. You can equate 100 beads to 100 rupees and thereby teach your kid to visualize money. This means that the value assigned to one bead will be equal to one rupee. The ten rows can be divided into two parts. Two beads shall represent a two-rupee coin, five beads represent a five-rupee coin, so on and so forth.

Understanding Money

Once the child gets acquainted with it, you can move on to shift the value of all the beads to a thousand rupees. That way, one bead will be worth rupees 10. You can ask them to represent different amounts with beads. For example, the price of oranges or the cost of the chocolate you bought them. This simple activity will help them have a clearer understanding of money.

5. The 10’s Strategy

Simple arithmetic calculations involving addition or subtraction make much more sense to children when computed on an abacus. This happens because they are able to perceive the approach much better. When a child puts two pairs of beads together and counts them thereafter, he gets a clear idea of how two plus two make a four.

The 10's Strategy

The 10’s Strategy is an amazing activity to ensure quick learning of concepts of Addition. Let’s take the example of evaluating 7+9=16. Ask your child to shift seven and nine beads respectively from the first two rows. Now make him shift one bead to the other side from the row of seven to make it six. Add one bead to the row of nine to make it ten. Thus, converting the problem into ’10+6=16′ which is more convenient to calculate mentally. 

6. The Place Value Activity

The Abacus can be used to teach kids the place value system in a way that’s a lot more fun.

You can divide the rows into units, tens, and hundreds. The first row is the units’ row with a value equal to one for each bead. The next row represents the tens’ row with a value equal to ten for each bead. The third row represents the hundreds’ row with a value equal to a hundred for each bead.

You may ask your kid to represent different three-digit numbers through this activity. For example, to represent ‘143’, he will require to shift 3 beads in the units’ row, 4 beads in the tens’ row, and 1 bead in the hundreds’ row. 

DIY Abacus For Kids – A fun activity

If you are a parent or educator and want to introduce the concept of the Abacus to the preschoolers, you can also make it at home with your little one. Gradually, you can introduce them to the conventional abacus as they grow up. But for teaching fundamentals, an abacus can be built from scratch at home! The bonus here would be that it would make up for a great activity hour for the kids and handmade objects let the kids get a good hold of the concepts.

Here is how you can make an abacus at home.

Method 1- With Spaghetti And Play-Doh

With Spaghetti And Play-Doh

For this, you would need a generous amount of playdoh which you can spread in a big rectangle or square shape with the help of a roller. Next, get some spaghetti and put them vertically on the doh. These would look like the bars of the abacus once you place them. To make them more sturdy, you can also put 3-4 instead of one so that when you put in the beads, it does not fall off. 

Make sure to put at least 3-4 sets of these spaghetti bars, but not more than that, as it can bewilder the little learner. You can now use different colored pasta as beads. The kid, by doing it themselves, would be even more excited to use it on a regular basis. 

Method 2- Using Wires & Cardboard

Using Wires & Cardboard

The next method involves using thick cardboard that must be cut from the middle. The cut-out should be in the shape of a rectangle. To carry out this activity and make the abacus, the kids would need a grown-up helping them throughout. Next, you can use a wire and stick it to the edges of the cardboard, that is, from edge to edge. However, before sticking, make sure that you insert some kind of beads inside the wire, which would act as the abacus beads and rows. 

Once you stick the wire from edge to edge, it would work exactly as an abacus does. However, if you are a bit apprehensive about using a wire, you can also go for some kind of ribbon, skewers, and even some thread instead of the wire.

Using these two methods, the kids can perform the following activities with their very own DIY abacus:

  1. Counting: Preschoolers and kindergarteners are at an age where counting is being introduced to them. Through this abacus, kids can learn how to count. It can be used as a manipulative to help students become better and more proficient in counting, which is fundamental for maths.
  2. Sorting: Sorting is an essential activity that has plenty of benefits for kids and adults. This DIY abacus can be used to introduce sorting to the kids. In the first method, the kids can sort the same colored pasta in one bar and the other color in the other bar. This would be a great sorting activity, and would also introduce kids to the abacus.
  3. Introducing addition and subtraction: This is a mathematics operation that can be introduced to preschoolers and kindergarteners for effective learning. Although these concepts are taught traditionally in school, the DIY abacus can be used to teach the little learners how to add and subtract so that it becomes easier for them in the coming years. 

This DIY Abacus can be a great way to introduce the abacus and the mathematical concepts at an early age. Later, as the child reaches higher classes, they would be more skillful and trained with the actual abacus.

Summing Up

The beauty of Mathematics lies within the fact that it exists all around us. Learning math through various interesting activities by experimenting with the Abacus is hands-down one of the fascinating ways to help younger children sense this beauty. 

Even before your child understands arithmetic operations, the Abacus can be utilized in a wide variety of fun-to-learn activities that tend to stimulate their brain and contribute to their growth. 

In addition to developing your kid’s thought power, an Abacus keeps them involved in productive mental exercises and ensures that their precious time is being spent constructively. So, kindergarteners and preschoolers should be definitely encouraged to explore this framework of colorful beads. 


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