Homemade Abacus

My son has been struggling a little bit (okay, a lot) with math lately, and specifically with before and after. So, I put together this rather quaint number line/abacus out of what I had around the house. It’s not much to look at, but it works great! And we’ve had a lot of fun counting our numbers, practicing before and after, and even doing a little addition.

I took an old wire hanger, some mini clothes pins, and a black ink pen for the project. Numbers 1-35 fit nicely on the wire with plenty of room to move them back and forth, and that will keep us plenty busy for awhile, I’m sure.

He did really well using the numbered side for before and after; however, he had a much harder time doing addition. The written numbers threw him off. For addition, I turned the hanger around to the blank side of the clothes pins.

Also, another trick for the addition families that is working so much better. Rather than memorizing them by 1+ or 2+ families as most teach them, we’ve reverted to the A Beka method of teaching the families by the sum:

One Family



Two Family




Three Family





And you get the idea from there. Math keeps me on my toes. I’m constantly on the search for something to help my son with math. So if anyone else has any stunning ideas, I am very open to them. Please feel welcome to comment or email me with your words of wisdom.

Published by Tracy
Our life is creative chaos, and our homeschool is loud and busy and distracted and challenging and lovely. My name is Tracy, and I homeschool my crew of three kids with ADHD/dyslexia, finding creative ways to use their strengths to teach their weaknesses. As a homeschooled homeschooler, I love customizing curriculum and making adjustments to incorporate fun, hands-on projects for out-of-the-box learners. Stop by growingNgrace.com to find grace for the messes and mistakes, and knowledge to pick up the pieces and make something special. Let’s grow together!

2 thoughts on “Homemade Abacus

  1. I LOVE the abacus! What a cute idea! I hope that you don’t mind if I borrow your idea!

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