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**Answer** by MariaDroujkova , Make math your own, to make your own math
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Dec 10, 2014 at 10:43 AM

@Dna - as with any math invention, abacus can help children make mathematics meaningful, useful, and fun - or it can take their power away in much the same way forced worksheets do. Here are some of my DOs and DON'Ts about the abacus.

- DO - Set up different abacuses where children can see and reach (a low shell at home, your computer or pad for virtual ones), so children can play with them freely whenever they want.
- DON'T - Introduce the abacus by teaching the long division algorithm or another long rote exercise. Free play must come first.

- DO - Help children build their own abacus, in their own way. Build yours side by side, discuss and compare your design decisions.
- DON'T - Only use a virtual abacus. As much as I love technology, touching is key here.

- DO - Program or build your own virtual abacuses in Scratch, Minecraft, or other child-friendly environments.
- DON'T - Only use pre-made software.

- DO - Explore ethnomathematics and history of abacus, compare and contrast abacuses from different cultures for their mathematical properties.
- DON'T - Use the "teaching abacus" with three rods and ten bones on each to count to thirty (though don't stop the kids if that's how they play). That's not how any culture uses their abacus.

- DO - Create abacuses in different bases, and study historical ones that are in different bases.
- DON'T - Insist on One Correct Way of doing things on your One Right Abacus.

- DO - Help kids learn at least some operations (e.g. multiplying two-digit numbers) fluently, maybe as party tricks.
- DON'T - Try to get there too fast, by doing so many abacus exercises at once that it becomes a drudgery.

- DO - Use abacus to help children find patterns. Always investigate why abacus algorithms work the way they do.
- DON'T - Use abacus only to teach rote algorithms, without understanding why they work.

Here is a video message as well (1:35):

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