Make Your Own Abacus

Want to help your class or children with their basic maths skills? A homemade abacus is a great way for visual learners to see their calculations and if you have time, you can give them a couple of historical pointers about this ancient counting frame too

Make Your Own Abacus

Time to Make

1 hour

Adult Supervision Needed


How to Make

  1. Lay three sticks down so they are parallel. Use the pencil to draw eight matching lines on each stick, evenly spaced and centred across the length of the sticks.
  2. Cut the wooden skewers to size and align them with the pencil marks. There should be one stick at both ends of each skewer. The third stick should be in the middle, about 1 inch away from the stick on the left.
  3. Put a thin line of glue on each of the pencil lines you have drawn.
  4. Carefully thread seven beads on each of the eight skewers. Place the skewers on the glue lines, arranging the beads so that two beads fall into the 1 inch space between the two closely placed sticks and the other five rest in the larger space between the middle and end sticks. Let the sticks dry.
  5. Glue three sticks on top of the skewers so they line up with the sticks below, taking care to keep the beads divided. Leave to dry.
  6. Glue the last three sticks on top of the sticks you’ve just glued down. Leave to dry.
  7. Once dry, flip the abacus over so that the stacked sticks are on the bottom. Depending on the size of the beads, you may have to add more sticks to the bottom. The stacked sticks let the beads slide smoothly on the skewers and prevent them from scraping along the surface you’re working on.

Top Tip

Make sure you have all the materials needed laid out in front of you before you start to make it easier to assemble

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