An Abacus (plural abaci) is one of the most ingenious tools when it comes to learning mathematics. Its history can be traced as far back as early Mesopotamia. Over the ages, it has been adopted by various civilizations to great effect, like Egyptian, Persian, Greek, Chinese, Roman, Japanese, Korean, American and Russian. Eventually, the decimal number system invented in India replaced it in the Western World. Today the most commonly used Abaci is a bead frame similar to the Russian Abacus but with straight wires and a vertical frame which have been used in pre-schools and elementary schools as an aid in teaching the numeral system and arithmetic.
Let me assure you, using an Abacus doesn’t mean you will be able to skip teaching your kids the actual numerical system. On the other hand, it is advised to adopt the Abacus only after they have learned basic counting. In Aarohi’s case, we took a little more hands-on approach to teaching her the 1, 2, 3s, instead of the more academic means. So, instead of learning numbers by reading them in a book, we encouraged her to count various things around her and then co-relate them to the written number. Once she knew how to count, we moved on to the modern Abacus to teach her addition and subtraction.
instead of learning numbers by reading them in a book, we encouraged her to count various things around her.
As always, since we wanted to teach her how to use it, we had to learn it ourselves. Another extensive search on youtube led us to this video by YouTuber Ignite Spot Accounting Services. In this video the host, Eddy Hood takes a very funny and entertaining approach to teaching us the very basics of using the modern Abacus.
This is an excellent first step and once we learned it we also taught it to Aarohi. The modern Abacus is a very simple and effective medium to visually learn how to count. The next step for us would be to learn the more complex Japanese Abacus also known as Soroban. It was adopted from its even more complex Chinese counterpart also known as Suanpan. Fortunately for us, there is a whole playlist of tutorials created by YouTuber The HEV Project covering addition and subtraction in great detail along with worksheets for each video. I’ve posted one of the videos below, for the whole playlist click here.