An abacus is an ancient counting tool that has been used all over the world, for centuries, primarily in Asia. The frame is traditionally made of wood with wire or small wooden rods running through it. On each of the rods there are beads that move from one side to the other. Children being using an abacus by moving the beads from one side to the other and counting them as they go.
The abacus pictured above is designed for an early childhood environment. This one has 10 rows of 10 beads. An abacus designed for older children or adults provides “decks” or separate areas to represent place value.
Since children take in information through their sense of touch (as well as their other senses), the abacus makes good sense. It reinforces one-to-one correspondence and number sense.
Did you know that blind children all around the world learn mathematics with an abacus?