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Abacus, a Powerful Teaching Tool for Preschool and Kindergarten Math

Abacus is an ancient calculation tool that belongs to the time before the creation of current numerical system. The traditional abacus consisted of a wooden frame with beads sliding on wires. Abacus was mainly used by merchants of that time for basic mathematical calculations. Although many years have passed since abacus was first in use, the importance of this calculation tool has not yet diminished.

Abacus is a teaching tool for preschool and kindergarten students

Abacus is Now a Teaching Tool

Today, abacus is used as a learning tool and an educational toy for preschoolers and kindergarten students. Abacus is one of the most effective educational toys for teaching numbers and basic math to three to five year olds. When combined with parent’s or teacher’s guidance, abacus is a powerful teaching tool for kids both in kindergarten and pre-kindergarten age. Here are three fundamental methods parents and teachers can use abacus to teach math to early math learners.

Start Using Abacus in Step Zero

Abacus can be used as one of the very first tools for introducing the concept of numbers to preschoolers and kindergarteners. Abacus is more effective when introduced to children before they can relate numbers to written shapes. We call this stage of math learning “Step Zero”. The main idea is to help young children learn what “2” is before they learn what “2” looks like. That’s where beads on wires come to play. Abacus helps children understand the meaning of quantities. When a child moves two beads one by one from left to right, he or she can see, feel and grasp the substance and definition of the actual “2”.

Teach Counting

teach math to young children using abacusA full size abacus comes with ten rows of wires and ten individual beads in each wire. The ten beads on wires can be used to teach counting and number sequence to preschoolers. To teach number sequence from 1 to 10, assign each wire a number and move the corresponding number of beads from left to right in each wire. Looking at abacus from top to bottom, children are able to see the arithmetic progression from 1 to 10. Kids learn counting and number sequence through visual observation and actual movement of objects.

Teach Addition and Subtraction

With the help from Abacus, advanced preschoolers and kindergarteners can learn the meaning behind addition and subtraction. Various techniques can be used for teaching these basic math operations with abacus. We recommend starting with simple addition and subtraction using the first 5 digits from 1 to 5. The goal is to familiarize children with the concept of addition and subtraction, not teaching them to use abacus as a formal calculation tool the way it was used in the old days. You want children to visually appreciate the basic mathematical functions by counting and moving beads through wires.