One misconception about STEAM activities for kids is that you may think you need advanced robotic equipment or the latest and greatest technology supplies to do a STEAM activity.
But this really isn’t true.
Simple household materials and the recycle bin are all that you need to get started with raising a STEAM thinker.
Want to know why I say STEAM instead of STEM, read here.
Before we get to the tutorial, let’s discuss why you should make your own abacus?
There are many different kinds of abacuses…abaci (what is the plural form of abacus)?
There are many you can purchase, so why make one?
Having your child help make their own learning tool helps your child take ownership and become more engaged in their learning.
The other bonus to making your own is you can custom design your abacus to your child’s current skill level (and your child’s favorite color).
Lil B (6 years old) is working on counting past 100, M-Woww (4 years old) is working on counting to 20 and Jellybean (22 months old) is working on counting to 3.
The tutorial below shows our process in designing an abacus especially for M-Woww (4 yrs).
We were able to customize her abacus to counting to 20 and the best part is abacus can grow with her as her counting skills develop. We can easily add to it later.
She loved using her old artwork (that otherwise would have been thrown away) in a new and meaningful way.
The tutorial below is broken into three parts:
- How to Make Paper Beads
- How to Make your own DIY Abacus for Kids
- A STEAM Challenge for kids using the Abacus
Part 1: How to Make Paper Beads
Materials: Recycled Artwork, Scissors, Glue, Pencil
Step 1: Cut old artwork into long triangles.
Step 2: Roll the triangle on a pencil
Step 3: Glue the end of the triangle and gently slide the pencil out.
Repeat as needed.
Part 2: DIY Abacus for Kids
I encourage you to lay out the materials and have your child design and build their own abacus but this is how we did it.
Materials: Picture frame (minus the glass, we used an empty 8 x 10 size frame), Pipe cleaners, Straws, Duct Tape, Paper Beads
Step 1: Decide on your abacus design.
We went with a 20 bead design with 5 beads going across.
Step 2: Push a pipe cleaner through a straw and add your paper beads onto the straw. Wrap each end of the pipe cleaner around the picture frame. Repeat as needed.
We found adding a straw gave the abacus extra durability when sliding the paper beads back and forth.
Step 3: Secure the pipe cleaners in place with strong tape.
Part 3: An Abacus STEAM Challenge for Kids
Create your own math game using the abacus.
I challenged Lil B (6) to design a game for M-Woww (4).
I challenged M-Woww to design a game for Jellybean (22m).
Each of them loved creating a game for their younger sibling. It was fun to see how engaged everyone was in the process.
Leave the activity open-ended for your child to create their own game. Provide materials but let your child chose what they use for their math game.
Material Suggestions: Abacus, Number Magnets or Number flash cards, Dice,
Step 1: Introduce your child to the challenge and show what materials are available.
Step 2: Give time for your child to create, experiment with their math game.
Step 3: Play the new game!
This post is part of the 28 Days of STEM series click here to view the full series hosted by Left Brain Craft Brain.