How to Use the Melissa & Doug Abacus

The abacus is a counting machine that has been used for centuries. The appearance and features of the abacus have evolved through the years, giving birth to the calculator and the computer. In some schools, the abacus is still used to teach young students to add, subtract, multiply and even divide. The Melissa and Doug Abacus are made specifically for children and can help improve their math skills 1.

Establish that each row of beads is equal to a number column. The first row represent numbers 1 through 10 or the “ones” row.

Move all the yellow beads on the ones row left to right to add any amount where the sum is 10 or less. Move the row of beads to the left hand side as far as they will go. If you want to add 2 plus 5, move two of the yellow beads to the right hand side. Now move five more beads next to the two beads. Count all the beads you moved to the right and you will have a total of seven beads.

Move all the beads on the ones and tens rows to the left side of the abacus. Add 8 plus 7 as an example. Move eight yellow beads from the first row to the right. Move the last two beads to the right as well. Point out to the child that there are no more beads but you still have to add five more beads to be able to add 8 plus 7.