Lately we have been practicing more skip counting with the kids using Little Math and reinforcing the lessons with our abacus. We also use some youtube videos, as well. There are a few learning playlists available on my channel, including skip counting, at www.youtube.com/teachingmytoddlers.
While you can count with any manipulatives or household items, what I like about the abacus was that there is no mess to clean up afterward. However, the abacus just didn’t seem to be as effective as it could be.
I decided a long time ago I should paint it, but I finally buckled down and took a few hours out of my morning to actually do it. I used one of the kids’ paintbrushes and it’s definitely a mediocre, amateur paint job. I suppose I could have just replaced the beads with colored beads from a craft store, but instead, I used what I had on hand didn’t cost me a cent out of pocket.
It started out looking like this-
I originally started to paint it with the beads on, I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to go through the hassle of trying to take the thing apart. However, right away I could tell that it was going to be a pain and was better off taking it apart. Turns out, it only required a screwdriver and about a minute to easily disassemble it.
Plus, this allowed me to separate the beads to paint the lighter colored beads yellow and the darker colored beads blue. I slid them on bamboo barbeque skewers to dry and spray with a clear coat. I could have used any color paint I suppose, but I chose Right Start colors in case I decided to use their iPhone/iPad app or official workbooks in the future things would match.
The results of this paint job were profound and instantaneous! I highly recommend dismantling a rainbow abacus you may have at home to paint or slide on new beads. It really helps my kids learn to think in 5’s and 10’s and it also helps ME teach more effectively when sliding the beads around for skip counting.
It is sooooo much easier to count on this thing now! The kids’ interest in math has risen dramatically from just a few coats of paint. It was time well spent and I only regret not doing it sooner. It’s perfect to let my daughter use it to help her solve equations in her early learning math workbooks. It’s so sturdy that I have no qualms about letting the kids play with it until their heart’s content and today Lily was happily “teaching Daddy.” Here is the finished product:
Just the other day I decided to do this again, this time modifying a Melissa & Doug Abacus into a Japanese soroban. It’s not ideal, but they are traditionally just a bit too small for my son’s hands right now as he is still building up his fine motor skills more and more every day (he’s almost 3). I had to enlist my husband’s help as a handyman but of course, I did all the painting. They were infinitely easier to paint with spraypaint! And although it’s difficult to tell in the picture, they look soooo much prettier compared to the first one where I used a paintbrush. Here’s the finished product-
I painted the beads to match the www.MathSecret.com bead colors. You can download their e-book and practice on the web-based program for 10 minutes daily at no cost. Simply create an account and then add multiple students in it so each child’s progress is tracked separately for the timed tests on each level. “However, do NOT get their “free, you only pay to ship, too good to be true” abacus. It’s JUNK.