Last night I was preparing some things for homeschool in January. We’ll be using some old-school review items. When I say old-school think one room schoolhouse please. I was reading through A Manual of Arithmetic to learn how to use Ray’s Primary Arithmetic. I realized Ray’s is very oral and hands on. Students work problems with manipulatives and out loud long before needing to write them down. Now I will be trying to use this with Makayla, Joseph, and Emma, which means I will be doing lessons from two parts of the book. Around lesson 26 it suggests using a ‘number frame’. The number frame looks a lot like an abacus, 10 wires with 10 beads each, so that is what I call it.
We’re not going to buy an abacus. I knew there had to be some way to make one with stuff we had on hand. A few searches around the internet revealed many ideas. Here is what we ended up making: I’ll explain the process below(with pictures!).
- 1 cereal box
- 1 pair of scissors
- 1 pencil
- a ruler (optional, but helpful for the perfectionists among us)
- pony beads
Step 2: Cut the box.Cut the front or back large rectangle of a cereal box or other cardboard box. Ours was a box of Life cereal.
Step 4: Cut the slits. On both long edges cut in approximately 1/2” – 1” at each mark. Ours are 3/4” apart. Here is a closer picture: Step 5: Cut the yarn. Cut 10 pieces of yarn (long enough to wrap around the cardboard completely and tie).
Step 7: String the beads. String 10 beads on a yarn string. The easiest way to do this is to slide one side of the yarn into a slit on the cardboard (leave a tail behind the cardboard that reaches about the middle of the back). Then put the beads on. Doing it this way beads will not fall off the table and roll everywhere on your not very level wood floor. This is very important if you have little ones who like to eat the beads. Trust me on this one.
Step 8: Tie the string. Slide the yarn through the other slit. Turn over and tie the ends together. Trim the ends. Go back to step 7 and repeat for the other 9 strings. It will look like this when you’re done:And here is the front, which is the important part: Having made one already I have a few notes and suggestions:
- Alternating colors on the beads on a single string might make it easier to count with.
- Or you can do 5 beads of one color and five of a second color per string.
- If you have an abundance of cereal boxes to use you can take the second rectangle cut from a box to cover the strings on the back, simply glue it over all those tied strings.
- For alphabet practice you could always make one of these with letter beads instead. As a matter of fact I’m sure there are shape beads out there too.
Warning: As with any craft project with small pieces there is a choking hazard for little ones. Supervise them! Or buy really big wooden beads.
I have now linked this post up to Tuesday's Toolbox for Learning. Check it out by clicking on the graphic below.