An AHA! abacus moment in the life of a preschooler

I've been doing math lessons with my 3-year old using the 100-bead abacus. Usually we do a few problems where she tells me a number to make and I tell her a number to make, back and forth. Today she asked me to make 51, and I asked her to make 68. These went smoothly since she's getting pretty good at this now.


Then we did a few "more than" problems. I said, "Let's say your sister has 5 cookies and you have one more than her. How many do you have?" This is a new concept to her so we need to do it slowly and carefully with the abacus: first make her sister's cookies, then let her have the same amount, then give her one more.

Then we do a few subtraction problems such as 7 − 4. She moved 7 beads, then "took away" or moved the other way 4 beads, and how many were left? 3 beads. I showed her also 50 − 10 = 40.

She started doing her own problem, "Let's do 9 − ..." and while she was thinking, I quickly proposed "... minus nine". Nine minus nine. Well, she moved nine beads, then COUNTED the beads one by one moving them the other direction, and was left with none... and what a SURPRISE it was to her! She had to start giggling!

I immediately showed her another one, 4 − 4. She did 10 − 10 herself. And THEN I showed her 100 − 100, which made the greatest giggles of all!

It was just so cute so I had to share. Plus, now you know several ways how to teach math concepts with the abacus.
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