How to Use an Abacus?

Table of Contents

    Have you ever quickly done math with an abacus? Aside from being useful, the tool has also been shown to be fun and instructive. You will learn about abacus math and how to use one in this article. Specifically, you will learn addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and figuring out percentages. We will show you how to use an abacus to handle your math problems.

    What Is an Abacus?

    An abacus is a tool for counting that is made up of lines with beads on them that are held in a frame. An abacus is usually made up of a rectangular wooden rack with straight rods inside it. Each stick has beads strung on it, and the beads can move up and down easily.

    You might also hear it called a counting frame.

    Each wire stands for a different place value. The bead closest to the user stands for a one, the next bead for a five, and so on. By moving the beads up and down, users can add, remove, multiply, and split numbers.

    The place value of a number is shown by the amount of beads on a stick. The rod on the left might have three beads, the rod on the right might have two beads, and so on. The number on the right stands for units, and the numbers on the left for hundreds, thousands, and beyond.

    What kinds of abacuses are there? It depends on where it comes from. For example, Chinese and Japanese are the two main types of abaci. The Chinese abacus has a frame made of wood or metal and beads that are arranged in columns. The Japanese abacus, called a soroban, has a frame made of metal and beads that are arranged in a line.

    It would be cool to know who made the abacus. No one knows for sure where the maths abacus came from. Abaci today has frames made of bamboo and beads that slide on wires. In the past, they were made of beans or stones that were moved in holes in sand or on wooden, stone, or metal tablets.

    The first counting abacus was a board with five lines and four places between them used as counters or tally marks. By marking when an animal goes through a gate, the abacus could track how many animals there were.

    1:1 Math Lessons

    Want to raise a genius? Start
    learning Math with Brighterly

    Let’s start learning Math!

    How to Use an Abacus for Addition?

    Using an abacus to add numbers can be a lot of fun.

    But how does an abacus work? The principle behind abaci counting remains the same: the right column represents ones, and the left column represents multiples of ten. 

    You need to know the number of digits in the longest number to add two numbers using the abacus. It will tell you how many columns you will need on your abacus.

    The columns represent powers of 10: ones, tens, hundreds, etc. That is how to read an abacus.

    Let us consider a simple example where we must add 7 and 6. 

    We can start by putting the beads for 7 in the first row. The bead will go in the second column from the right, which is equal to one. There are five beads in the third column, which is equal to five. 

    Also, let’s put a bead in the second column from the right, which is equal to 1, and one in the third column, which is equal to 5. Now, we can add them by moving all the beads from column 3 to column 4.

    After adding, we get one bead from the right in the second, third, fourth, and sixth columns, giving us the final answer 13.

    How to Use an Abacus for Subtraction?

    How do you use an abacus for subtraction? Subtraction of numbers with an abacus is very easy, just like addition. You must work with the top row first and then move to the bottom. You must set up the abacus properly to get the correct answer. How to use an abacus step by step for subtraction are as follows:

    1. To the left of the abacus, you should find the subtraction sign, which you should use when subtracting numbers with five digits or less. Put the abacus’s subtraction sign on the right side if the number you’re subtracting has six or more digits.
    2. To start, move the beads away from the center bar and towards you on the abacus.
    3. By rearranging the beads in the top row until there is a single bead before each digit in the top row, you may subtract two integers of identical length. There ought to be five beads before the far-left digit. In this case, 0 should appear as “00000” (five zeros).
    4. Next, this will cause some top-row beads to go into negative numbers.

    1:1 Math Lessons

    Want to raise a genius? Start
    learning Math with Brighterly

    Let’s start learning Math!

    How to Use an Abacus for Multiplication?

    You can show off your skills and impress your friends if you learn the steps that you need to follow when performing abacus multiplication. Here is how to use abacus in teaching multiplication.

    1. Create a number equal to or greater than the number you want to multiply but smaller than 100.
    2. Pick a multiple that is often less than or equal to the first number.
    3. Using the multiple of ten, multiply the first number using abacus multiplication and keep track of the total on paper. This outcome will be your running total.
    4. Take away one from the multiple of ten and add 1 to the first number. The new multiple should be one less than the last multiple.
    5. Multiply this new number using abacus multiplication and add it to your running total from step 3.

    Let’s take 664 x 10 as an example:

    Ø  To multiply 664 x 10, first put 664 on the abacus

    Ø  Next, add one more row (10s place) on top of the 664 figure and move the 3rd bead from right to left into this row

    Ø  Then, move all other beads in the 1st row one place towards the left

    Ø  You will get 6640 as a result.

    That is how an abacus works.

    The Use of Abacus for Counting

    Also called a counting frame, the abacus is a calculating tool used in Europe, China, and Russia centuries before the adoption of the written Hindu–Arabic numeral system. When was the abacus invented? The exact date of origin of the abacus is still a mystery.

    Abacuses come in a lot of different styles. Decimal abaci are the ones that have beads that are split into tens and ones. Digit-type abaci have beads that are split into groups of thousands and hundreds. Binary-decimal abaci, on the other hand, only have rows of tens.

    The abacus is a tool for doing maths in its most basic form. A rectangular frame is laid out flat on a base, and rods are strung across it. The ten beads on each rod are strung in a way that there are five on each side of the line in the middle. To do calculations, the beads are moved from one spot to another.

    What is an abacus used for? The old abacus was one of the first tools used to do math. It’s useful because it helps the person doing math remember things. A modern abacus that is bought from a reputable store is cheap and can be used to do math quickly and easily.


    An abacus is a fascinating tool for doing math. It requires skill, but if you learn how to do it right and practice enough, you’ll never have trouble with division or multiplication again. When used correctly, an abacus is a fun way to learn how to do math.

    Kid’s grade

    • Grade 1
    • Grade 2
    • Grade 3
    • Grade 4
    • Grade 5
    • Grade 6
    • Grade 7
    • Grade 8
    • Grade 9
    • Grade 10
    • Grade 11
    • Grade 12
    Image full form