# Tag: Abacus

## Mental Math – Tricks or Real Help

Mental Math  – is it a trick or can it truly help your child to learn math?

I found this article from article dashboard and wanted to share it with you. It discusses 2 methods that are currently being used in Asia.

Mental Math Methods From Asia

First of all, let us figure out what exactly is mental math. Today if you search the phrase “mental math” you will probably end up with millions of options. Not exactly that makes your life easy; instead it builds up and strengthens your curiosity. Put in simplest terms, mental math can be defined as calculations performed in your head – mentally – without help of any external device be it as simple as pen and paper or any modern day device such as calculator, computer or any other electronic gadget.

We humans perform mental mathematical calculations everyday, consciously and unconsciously. When you are driving you figure out when to apply brakes to bring the vehicle to stop before hitting something. You figure out time difference between east coast and west coast. But where we falter is at the simplest and most mundane of calculations. Go to a restaurant and figure out 18% gratuity.

Abacus Mental Mathematics

What is abacus mental mathematics? Origin of Abacus is highly disputed today, some say it originated in Mesopotamia and some claim to be in China. Over centuries, abacus has evolved in to various different forms and sizes. The most commonly used is the Japanese Soroban Abacus.

The Soroban Abacus consists of one upper row and four lower rows and columns vary from thirteen, fifteen, seventeen or twenty one. It is claimed and proven by many researchers in Asia that Abacus stimulates whole brain development. When children use both hands to move the abacus beads to perform arithmetic calculations, there is quick communication between the hands and the brain that stimulates both the right and left hemispheres of the brain. This promotes rapid, balanced whole brain development.

If a child starts learning the abacus before being taught traditional arithmetic, there is minimal conflict and the child will easily work within both systems. If a child starts the program later, having already received traditional foundations, there may be a slightly extended learning period for the child to accept and integrate the abacus method.

Vedic Mental Mathematics

What is Vedic mental mathematics? Origin of Vedic Mathematics is in Atharva Veda (Holy Scripture from Hinduism). Vedic mathematics is a system based on sixteen sutras (aphorisms) which are actually word-formulae describing natural ways of solving a whole range of mathematical problems. These formulae describe the way the mind naturally works and are therefore a great help in directing the student to the appropriate method of solution.

It is claimed and proven by many researchers in Asia that practice and use of Vedic mathematics helps the person in many different aspects of decision making. From intelligent guessing to thinking outside the box ability. Vedic mathematics has its applications to much advanced mathematics, such as calculus and linear algebra. The sixteen sutras are: By one more than the one before, All from 9 and the last from 10, Vertically and crosswise, Transpose and apply, If the Samuccaya is the same it is zero, If one is in ratio the other is zero, By addition and by subtraction, By the completion or non-completion, Differential calculus, By the deficiency, Specific and general, The remainders by the last digit, The ultimate and twice the penultimate, By one less than the one before, The product of the sum, and All the multipliers

Today, both these methods have made a come back in Asia. Abacus Mental Math method is extremely popular in nations of China, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, Korea and India whereas Vedic Mental Math method is extremely popular only in India.

What do you think?

## Learning Math with the Abacus

So you’ve all seen an abacus, right?

I thought you might be interested in knowing a little about its history and how it’s used.

So I looked for an article that would do just that and found this one!

Learning Math With Manipulatives — The Abacus

The abacus has been around in various forms for over 2300 years. It was used for various counting and operational tasks. One might even call it the original math manipulative (unless you count fingers and stones). In my younger years, abaci were relegated to the bottom shelf or used as a toy for the kinesthetic kids. These days, abaci can meet the same fate that the abaci of my youth did. The first known abacus, the Salamis tablet, collected dust for over 2100 years. For all those lonely and banished abaci on dusty shelves everywhere, I dedicate this article on how to represent, add and subtract whole and decimal numbers.

As most teachers know, the use of manipulatives by younger elementary students helps them to understand the concepts of place value and operations later on. In my search for a variety of manipulatives to teach number sense, addition and subtraction, I came across a convenient tool in the abacus. I’m sure it was no coincidence that each row on the abacus included exactly ten beads, but there was no operators manual with the abacus I found. When I found an instruction manual several years later, I found that the manufacturer of the abacus saw it as no more than a counting device and had no idea of the place value power inherent in the design.

Representing Numbers With a Dusty Abacus

When I first started using an abacus as a manipulative in math class, I was teaching grade six. In the grade six curriculum, students were supposed to represent whole numbers greater that one million and decimal numbers to thousandths. If you count the number of places from one million down to thousandths, you get ten places. Coincidentally, the abacus had ten rods of ten beads each. I’m sure what I discovered was discovered long ago, and some manufacturers probably even send out better instruction manuals that make note of this, but at the time, it was a completely new discovery.

To make a long story short, I assigned each row a specific place value starting with millions at the top, and thousandths at the bottom. One could use a strip of tape or an indelible marker to label the rows. To represent a number, a student would simply move the number of beads for the value of each place in the number they were given. For example, the number 325,729 was represented by moving three of the hundred thousands beads, two of the ten thousands beads, five of the thousands beads, seven of the hundreds beads, two of the tens beads and nine of the ones beads.

I didn’t have a class set of abaci, so I made up little sketches of an abacus (six or so per page) and students showed representations of numbers using these.

Adding and Subtracting Numbers With a Polished Abacus

Once students are familiar with representing numbers using an abacus, they can move onto adding and subtracting numbers. The idea of adding using an abacus and place value is quite a simple process. Begin by representing the first number. Add the value of each place value in the second and subsequent numbers one at a time beginning with the lowest place value and regroup as necessary.

A variation on addition is to add the second and subsequent numbers from the highest place value to the lowest place value.

Subtracting is much the same as addition, but it involves “removing” beads. The procedure for subtracting is to represent the first number then to subtract the value of each place value in the second and subsequent numbers beginning with the highest place value.

Consider this example, 3.252 – 1.986. The student would first represent 3.252 using the abacus. He would begin by subtracting one one. This is fairly straight forward because there are enough ones available. In the next step, though, the student has to subtract nine tenths from two tenths. He begins by subtracting two of the nine tenths, but he then has to regroup one of the remaining ones into ten tenths. Once he has ten more tenths, he can subtract the remaining seven tenths. He continues by subtracting eight hundredths from five hundredths, and again, he has to regroup, this time, one of the tenths into ten hundredths. The final step also involves regrouping since six thousandths must be subtracted from two thousandths. In the end, the student hopefully ends up with one one, two tenths, six hundredths, and six thousandths (1.266).

Subtraction could also be accomplished by subtracting the lowest place value first, but this sometimes means more manipulations of the beads which means more chance for error.

Conclusion

The use of the abacus takes a little bit of time to master. It is important that the teacher and the students use the correct place value terminology (e.g. “regroup ten hundreds to make one thousand” instead of “turn ten green beads into one blue bead”), so the concepts of place value, addition, and subtraction can be transfered to mental strategies and paper/pencil algorithms. Remember, the best way to dust and polish an abacus is with little fingers!

## Learn Math The New Old Way

I found this interesting article on the abacus. Who knew just how important an old mathematical tool could be?

Ancient Asian Calculating Tool May Hold Key To Boosting Children’s Mental Math Skills

A growing number of American educators and concerned parents are looking for ways to help children develop the math skills necessary to succeed in the careers of the future.

In Asia, many schools have rediscovered the secrets of the abacus, an ancient calculating device that offers remarkable benefits for nurturing young minds and encouraging proficiency in mathematics and mental calculation. With abacus instruction, children can achieve much more than just excellent math skills. Abacus use can build confidence, provide a sense of achievement, promote intuitive thinking, enhance problem-solving capability, stimulate creativity, and improve concentration and mental endurance.

Educators in Asia say abacus skills are a key reason children in these countries consistently win top rankings in international math comparisons. Many schools in Asia, where abacus instruction is widely popular for teaching mental math/arithmetic, introduce the abacus between kindergarten and 4th grade.
U.S. Student Math Performance Lags Behind Asia

In 2003, U.S. performance in mathematics literacy and problem solving was lower than average among OECD (Organization for Education and Cooperative Development) countries. Korea and Japan ranked at or near the top in problem solving and combined math literacy.

In the United States, abacus instruction is catching in some schools as well as among parents who home-school their children.

They realize that math proficiency gives students. a competitive edge and prepares them for tomorrow’s highly selective job marketplace. Most new jobs in the U.S. require good math and science skills, and abacus instruction is geared to helping children master mental math/arithmetic at an early age.

Abacus training also keeps children from becoming overly dependent on electronic calculating tools for simple arithmetic – a problem that worries teachers.

The abacus is an excellent substitute for rote memorization of multiplication tables. Abacus calculation relies on the manipulation of beads rather than use of traditional arithmetic. It teaches children to visualize numbers and their relationships and placement values.

Abacus Stimulates Whole Brain Development

When children use both hands to move the abacus beads to perform arithmetic calculations, there is quick communication between the hands and the brain that stimulates both the right and left hemispheres of the brain. This promotes rapid, balanced whole brain development.

If a child starts learning the abacus before being taught traditional arithmetic, there is minimal conflict and the child will easily work within both systems. If a child starts the program later, having already received traditional foundations, there may be a slightly extended learning period for the child to accept and integrate the abacus method.

A popular abacus program is available through Fairfax, Virginia-based NurtureMinds.com, which offers books containing simple step-by-step instructions that make learning the abacus fun for children. This set of books, Learning Mathematics with the Abacus, was developed specifically for teaching youngsters in grades 2, 3 and 4 how to master mental math/arithmetic with the abacus. The site also offers the Japanese Soroban abacus, which consists of a wooden frame divided into 2 parts separated by a beam, with one row of beads on the upper deck, and four rows on the lower deck.

Japanese Educators Hail Abacus Training

In Japan, educators maintain that the abacus helps children develop powers of mental calculation. It enables children to:

understand the base-ten number system and place values,
understand concepts of carrying and borrowing in arithmetic, and
visualize close relations between numbers and numerals..

Learning Mathematics with the Abacus is available in the United States exclusively through NurtureMinds.com. Beginners use the Learning Mathematics with the Abacus Year 1 textbook and activity book to start adding and subtracting numbers up to 100. They start by identifying the different parts of the abacus, holding and using it correctly, mastering the correct fingering technique in moving the beads, and learning to visualize as they calculate.
Learning Mathematics with the Abacus Year 2 focuses on addition and subtraction of numbers up to 1,000, and develops multiplication and division skills.

Activities in these books have been carefully designed and structured by a panel of academicians, curriculum specialists and instructional designers to ensure that pupils not only learn mathematics effectively, but also develop the ability to perform mental calculations.

These books are used by tens of thousands of students in Malaysia and many other nations, where they are regarded as the best abacus learning books for children on the market.

Parents and educators can visit the NutureMinds.com website to find out more about why these books are becoming increasingly popular in many countries like Malaysia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India, Singapore and elsewhere. They have become valuable abacus teaching tools in schools, tuition centers and community centers, and are used by home-schooling parents around the world. The website offers free downloads from the books.

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So if you’re ready to get your abacus, you can find one here:
.

Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Abacus
publisher: Melissa and Doug
ASIN: B00005BVRQ
EAN: 0000772004930
sales rank: 442
price: \$6.99 (new)

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Isn’t it amazing how sometimes the old becomes new?!?

Have a great day!