Category Archives: Curriculum resources

Abacus- Important or Not?

An Abacus is one of the first counting devices invented and I was intrigued why it was used?

It is a simple wooden/ plastic framed tools with beads used to show a visual representative of place value and assist addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. It can be used as a calculator by sliding the beads along the rods (which is a lot funnier than typing on a calculator!). The abacus has been around for around 2500 years and as primarily used in countries such as China, Korea, Japan etc but it’s now recognised by most of the world.

The abacus tool is not used as often in schools anymore as devices change and evolve however, an assistant psychology professor at the University of California in Riverside, Aaron Seitz, (South China Morning Post, 2011) states that children should not just be writing to learn maths but should be using other senses to consolidate their learning.

“Maths is not strictly verbal, tactile or a language; it is a kind of an abstract representation and so if that abstract representation is built upon information from multiple sensory modes, it is going to be more developed and more effective than coming from a single sense.” (South China Morning Post, 2011)

The experience that children gain with using the abacus is more successful as they can use physical touch, sound of the beads and visually looking at them as more efficient tool to grasp rather than simply writing down a sum on paper.

The following youtube video demonstrate how a child uses the basic abacus to assist with his maths.

(Addition and Subtraction by Abacus, 2016)

The abacus is especially useful in early years so the children can understand the concept of the number holding a quantity by the visual representation of the beads. I believe the abacus is still important to use today as it is one of the easiest and more fun ways for children to understand addition and subtraction.

Although abacus is not used as often anymore, i believe the reason behind the abacus is important to ensure the best learning opportunities for young children. Many other ways teachers can use maths in a physical form such as getting the children to count (add or subtract) money, sweeties or each other. After, researching about the abacus, I will take into consideration while teaching the basics of addition and subtraction that if need be, i know it is an effective tool that i can implement.


South China Morning Post (2011). Ancient abacus still has a place. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 Oct. 2017].

Addition and Subtraction by Abacus. (2016).Mostofa Saadi.