The abacus is one of the oldest math manipulatives there is! There are so many simple ways for your kids to practice math concepts with an abacus. They can work on counting, starting with groups of 10 and working up, simple addition and subtraction, skip counting by 2s, 5s, or 10s and more! Using the Kid Made Modern Jewelry Jam Craft Kit, fuzzy sticks, and cardboard we created this simple DIY abacus that is ready for all kinds of math and play! Add a set of simple counting cards for even more math fun! Read below for the full instructions to make your own.
-Three pieces of square cardboard, roughly 12” each
-Scissors or cardboard cutter
-Hot glue gun (always ask an adult for help with a hot glue gun!)
Step 1: Cut three identical pieces of cardboard, roughly 12” squares. Cut a square out of the center of 2 of your cardboard squares, leaving a 2’ border around the edges. If your cardboard has a lot of writing on it, you may want to paint it! If not, you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Choose 10 fuzzy sticks for the center of your abacus. You can choose 10 fuzzy sticks that match, or 10 different colors. Next, choose 10 different kinds of beads from your Jewelry Jam craft kit. You need to count 10 of each different type of bead. String each group of 10 beads onto a pipe cleaner.
Step 3: Take one of your cardboard squares with the center cut out. Line up your fuzzy sticks across the opening in the cardboard. Space them out as evenly as possible. Use hot glue to glue the ends of the fuzzy sticks to the cardboard. Glue both ends of each fuzzy stick in place. Trim or fold over any fuzzy stick that is hanging over the end of the cardboard.
Step 4: Glue the second piece of cardboard with the center cut out over top of the first, so that the ends of the fuzzy sticks are sandwiched between them. All of your beads should be visible in the center of the cardboard frame.
Step 5. Glue the final, solid square of cardboard onto the back of your abacus. Only glue around the edges where the cardboard touches, do not glue down the beads or fuzzy sticks in the center. This will add some support to make your abacus sturdier.
Step 6: Flip your abacus back over to the front. If you want, glue some fuzzy sticks around the edges of the opening and the outer edges of the cardboard!
Bonus: Make cardboard number cards to go with your abacus! Cut 10 identical rectangles of cardboard. Use fuzzy sticks to create the numbers 1-10. Glue one number onto each piece of cardboard. Underneath the number, glue a matching number of beads from the Jewelry Jam craft kit! You can use these cards to help you practice counting.