What is Learning Ability And Skills Determining It –Abacus?

Unlike other school subjects, mathematics is the one that demands the most concentration and focus. To solve mathematical equations and work with numbers, you do need to be attentive. It can only be achieved through a program that promotes cognitive skills in children and hones learning skills. Abacus constantly exposes kids to exercises that captivate their attention and teach them to maintain focus for longer periods of time. With this exercise, kids are able to stay focused for a long time. Their cognitive skills develop much more quickly this way. They learn to keep focus for a long period of time. Their brains create the right nerve networks that facilitate an increased level of focus and concentration.


So how can Abacus promote better learning and cognitive skills in children?


Better Science Skills

Since mathematics is science, any brain-development program that focuses on honing the math skills of children is essentially making them better scientific thinkers. Abacus specifically focuses on ingraining in children the fundamental mathematical understanding. It helps them develop cognitive skills and become better analytical thinkers, which is a mind frame that carries into other fields of science as well. Whether it’s physics, chemistry, biology or any other scientific subject, Abacus can help prepare your child for a better understanding of scientific concepts.


Unlike other school subjects, mathematics is the one that demands the most concentration and focus. To solve mathematical equations and work with numbers, you do need to be attentive. It can only be achieved through a program that promotes cognitive skills in children and hones learning skills. Abacus constantly exposes kids to exercises that captivate their attention and teach them to maintain focus for longer periods of time. With this exercise, kids are able to stay focused for a long time. Their cognitive skills develop much more quickly this way. They learn to keep focus for a long period of time. Their brains create the right nerve networks that facilitate an increased level of focus and concentration.

Easy Schooling

Math consistently ends up being the subject that most children struggle with. Abacus focuses on developing basic math skills so they are able to grasp complex mathematical ideas more easily. As children are able to grapple with mathematics, their schooling becomes easier as they do not need as much help or assistance as other kids who don’t go through the Abacus program as they lack the cognitive skills necessary for this kind of task. Since then children do not need to spend so much time on mathematics, they have more time to become proficient at other subjects. It increases their overall grade and opens them to opportunities that are not available to children who do not take the Abacus course.



Abacus is one of the best programs available for children today. If you want your child to develop learning and cognitive skills, you cannot go wrong with the Abacus program. It does not only help them with mathematics but gives them the frame of mind that makes them better thinkers. They are able to solve more complex problems. Skills like decision-making and analytical mindset are improved making them better individuals overall, not just better students. Abacus gives children the tools they need to become successful individuals and responsible adults.


brain development games

Brain Development Activities & Games for Kids

Ages 1 to 5 are the most crucial phases of children for not only their brain development but in also adopting a worldview and values that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. Providing kids the right environment is incredibly important so that their energies and focus are directed only toward conducive activities.

Brain Development

Activities can accelerate the process of brain development, which helps children analyze better the problems that they will likely face in their lives. It is also a time when child brain development activities are most effective. Here we list four games that are excellent brain exercises for kids.



Sudoku is a great brain exercise for children as it teaches them to look for patterns. It encourages them to use logic to fill out a puzzle based on the ground rules. Using the electronic devices these days, you can fill out mock numbers to see how the puzzle shapes up and if you spot an error, you can walk back to correct your errors. Sudoku does not only teach children to think logically but it also makes them look for flaws in their own strategies. Over time it makes self-assessment a crucial part of children’s psyche.



Out of all the board games and puzzles, Chess is the one that promotes brain development in children the most. It accelerates brain development in children by helping them think out their successive moves prior to even making them. It helps them analyze the game and think out possible moves for all the pieces on the board. With the end game in mind, it helps them work out a strategy that will win them the game. But if they spot any problems in the middle game, the can maneuver their strategy so that it accounts for the new development that they did not foresee.

Chess is very handy for kids brain development


There are a host of benefits that children could get from learning math using an Abacus. The foremost benefit is that it quantifies everything. It helps them
quantify the nouns in the problems with the beads on an Abacus. Unlike when
using a calculator, they can see the addition and subtraction in real-time. As far
as brain exercises for kids go, using an Abacus is a great way to not only boost
the understanding of mathematics but it is also one of the best brain
development activities.

Abacus for kids brain development


Jigsaw Puzzles

The human mind is designed to look for patterns. We search for patterns in everything whether they are in the clouds in the sky or in modern art. To promote baby brain development, jigsaw puzzles are a great way to promote their brain function. It helps them visualize the image that they are striving for then they look for the tile that fits the edges of the block that this piece will go next to. For parents and teachers who are looking for child brain development activities, jigsaw puzzles are a brilliant option that does not only keep the kids busy but also help their brain growth.

SIP Abacus Plus launch

SIP Abacus – Launching best training centers in Dubai

Grand Opening of SIP Abacus Plus Centre at Karama, Dubai

Inviting Children for a Mega Coloring Contest

SIP Academy is launching its exclusive SIP Abacus Plus center at Karama Dubai! In lieu of the launch, the company is conducting a Mega coloring contest for the children of age group 5 to 12. Children are requested to bring their own colors, sketch pens, crayons, pencils and other stationery required. Coloring sheets will be provided to them at the Venue. Participation is absolutely free!

Also, all the participating children will get a certificate, and the winners of the coloring contest will get attractive prizes too.

Where? – SIP Abacus Plus, Karama, Dubai

When? – April 26th, 2019

The SIP Abacus plus programme makes use of three tools to have a positive impact on children – Abacus, Brain Gym, and Speed Writing. With their initiation into the programme, children begin to enjoy numbers and develop / improve their skills of concentration, visual memory, listening resulting in increased self- confidence. The programme incorporates a lot of fun through games & puzzles too. The programme is designed in such a way that the child can attend the class twice a week with no homework and still be able to overcome their fear of numbers.

Additionally, Brain Gym Exercises are deigned to help the children relax and energize their brain to do new tasks. Children improve their ability to learn, do their school-work faster and hence have more free time to pursue their passion.

Programme Highlights

  • Training based on a structured international curriculum
  • Small batch size to ensure individual attention
  • Interactive training Aid to enhance quick learning
  • Safe environment for children
  • World-class classroom infrastructure for perfect programme delivery.

SIP Brand Promise

The SIP Abacus programme has a unique brand promise guaranteed to make the children 5 times better. This is a one-of-its-kind offer. No other Abacus company in the World ensures to provide this guarantee. All the children who join the programme are tested on their arithmetic proficiency, in terms of accuracy, speed, and ability to concentrate. A similar test is taken by these children at the end of level 4, and a minimum 5 times improvement is proven. In case, SIP fails to show 5 times improvement in any child, SIP promises a refund to the parent. More than 1,00,000 children have been made more than 5 times better because of SIP Abacus.

The SIP Abacus programme is an international programme that is currently available in 10 countries and has benefited more than 8,00,000 children across 900 learning centers.

Accreditation’s of SIP Abacus Programme

  • Member of World Association of Abacus & Mental Arithmetic (WAAMA)
  • Member of Asia Abacus & Mental Arithmetic Research and Development Affiliation (AAMARDA)
  • Adjudged as the “Best Coaching Institute in Skill Development for Children” in India by the Worldwide Achievers, 2015.

SIP Academy, headquartered in Chennai, India is successfully running various world-class programmes. At SIP India, we understand that each kid is unique with her/his potential to be a winner. SIP has always believed in developing programmes, ‘Keeping the Child in Mind’ and following the fun learning methodology. This methodology of fun learning plays a pivotal role in ensuring accomplishment of the objective of making the child achieve excellence not only in academics but also in other walks of life. This, of course requires, active involvement of Parent, Teacher and the Child to ensure best results.

SIP Academy India

  • Is an ISO 9001:2015 certified organization
  • holds 5 Limca Book of Records

Come Join us in celebrating the launch with an amazing mega coloring contest.

Abacus Maths addition

Abacus Addition – How to do Abacus Addition

In the previous article, we had learnt about the use of Abacus, representation of numbers on Japanese Abacus, clearing the Abacus, working from left to right and complementary numbers. In this article, which is the first article on Abacus Maths, we shall have introduction to the procedure of carrying out abacus sums involving addition of single digit and multiple digit numbers. In subsequent articles we shall learn about subtraction, multiplication and division. Here, Abacus addition means carrying out addition operation by use of Abacus.

We shall see how to carry out addition problems for the following cases:

  • Case 1: Abacus addition of two single digit numbers whose sum is less than nine.
  • Case 2: Abacus addition of two single digit numbers whose sum is more than nine.
  • Case 3: Abacus Addition of two multiple digit numbers.

Case 1: Abacus addition of two single digit numbers whose sum is less than or equal to nine.

Let us do Abacus addition of 4 and 3, whose sum is 7, which is less than or equal to 9.

  • First, we shall set up the number 4 on Abacus by moving all the earth beads upwards towards the beam on the unit rod.
  • Now, in order to add 3, which is equal to 5 – 2, we shall move the heaven bead (in top row) down to add 5 and then move 2 earth beads down to subtract 2.
  • We now have heaven bead and 2 earth beads in set position giving us the result of the Abacus addition as 7.

Case 2: Abacus addition of two single digit numbers whose sum is more than nine.

Let us do Abacus addition of 4 and 8, whose sum is 12, which is greater than 9.

While doing Abacus sums involving addition of two single digit number whose sum is greater than nine, it is required to subtract the compliment of second number from the first number and one bead is moved up on the rod which is on the immediate left to the rod where addition is being carried out.

  • Set number 4 on the unit rod B.
  • Find the complement of second number with respect to 10, which is equal to 10 – 8 = 2
  • Now subtract 2 from 4 on the unit rod B by moving the last two earth beads downwards leaving only two earth beads in set position.
  • Move one earth bead upwards on the rod A (which is rod on immediate left of rod B)
  • Effectively the above operations can be explained as – We know that 4 + 8 =12, so if we replace 8 with 10 – 2, we get 4 + 10 – 2 = 12 or 4 – 2 + 10 = 12. In order to achieve 4 – 2, we carried out step 3 and to add 10 we carried out step 4 above.

Abacus Addition

Case 3: Abacus Addition of two multiple digit numbers.

Let us try the abacus addition of 21 + 6.

  • In order to carry out this abacus sums, we first set number 21 on the abacus frame by placing value of 2 on rod G and of 1 in rod H. Remember to enter this number from left to right with 1 being on unit rod.

Abacus Sums

  • In order to carry out addition from left to right, we are required to add 2 + 0 on rod G because number 6 can be considered to be equal to number 06.
  • Next, we are required to add 1 + 6 on the unit rod. The sum of these two numbers is less than or equal to 9, so we shall use Case 1 method explained above, whereby to add 6, we need to set the heaven bead by moving it downwards and move one earth bead upwards.
  • As can be seen, Rod G has value of 2 and rod H has a value of 7.

Abacus Maths

Let us now add 15 to the result of abacus addition of the above abacus sums, which is 27 + 15.

  • First, 23 shall carry out 2 + 1 on rod G, because we are required to work from left to right. We shall utilize method explained in Case 1, by moving one earth bead upward to place number 3 on the rod, because the sum of these two numbers is less than or equal to 9. At his stage the result is shown as 37, which is not the final answer but only an intermediate stage.
  • Next, we are required to carry out addition of 7 and 5. Since the sum is greater than 9, method in Case 2 shall be followed. We find complement of 5 with respect to 10, which is 5 itself. Subtract 5 from 7, by moving heaven bead up and we get answer as 2. At this intermediate stage abacus shall show 32.
  • Last step is to move one earth bead upwards on the rod G, which is rod on Immediate left to H.
  • By this operation, we get our final answer as 42 as shown on the abacus below.

Abacus Maths - addition of 2 two digit numbers

How to use an Abacus

Abacus Maths Training – How to use an abacus

Abacus has been in use for more than 5000 years in various forms. However, in today’s competitive world, where sometimes correctness of one extra question and fraction of second makes all the difference between success and failures, having all the required information about Abacus and learning how to use an abacus has become increasingly important. Mindbuilder training  provides Abacus classes in Dubai at its Karama Center in order to assist in achievement of above objective. This article provides the basic information about abacus and its use while subsequent articles deals with the basic operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division operation through use of Abacus.

Difference between Suan-pan (Chinese Abacus) and Soroban (Japanese Abacus) were discussed in article about History of Abacus. All future articles about use of abacus shall be based on use of Japanese Soroban.

Essential Information about Abacus and its use

The Soroban abacus is best suited for a Base-10  numbering system. In Base-10 numbering system, each of the rod works as a placeholder and represents a value between 0 and 9.

In the Japanese Soroban with 1/4 configuration, in each of the rod, there is one bead above the beam called as the Heaven bead and four beads are below it, called as the Earth Beads. The Heaven Beads represents a value of 5 and each of the earth beads has a value of 1.

The value of any bead is ten times the value of the bead lying on its immediate right and one tenth of the value of the bead which lies to its immediate left.

If you carefully observe the beam, you’ll find a dot marking placed on the intersection of beam and rod on every third rod. The rods marked with such dots are called unit rod. Any one of such rods marked with dots can be designated to carry the unit number placeholder depending on the choice of the operator of the Abacus and his convenience.

However, it is usual practice to choose unit rod, just to the right of center on the soroban. Decimals are represented on the right side of the unit rod. If we are dealing with large numbers, we can choose the unit rod more on the right side and in case we are dealing with decimal numbers with larger number of significant digits we can choose it more towards the left side.

These dots also acts as markers by use of which, the larger numbers can be quickly and conveniently recognized.

How to use an Abacus

The beads are considered counted when they are moved towards the divider separating the upper and lower decks.

Setting numbers on an Abacus

While setting up numbers on an Abacus, you are advised to make use of only the thumb and your index fingers to manipulate the position of beads on the abacus. The thumb is used only to move the earth beads up toward the beam and all other type of movements are carried out by the use of the index finger ( such as moving all earth beads down and all heaven beads up & down).

In order to set numbers on the abacus, the operator slides the beads in upward or downward direction to make the beads touch the beam. Bringing up one earth bead and making it touch the beam gives the concerned rod a value of 1. If we move three earth beads up and make them touch the beam will give that particular rod a value of 3. To give a value of 5 to the rod, all the earth beads are cleared (moved away from the beam) and the heaven bead is moved downwards to touch the beam. Placing together one heaven bead and two earth beads will set a value of 7 and so on.

In Fig shown below from left to right, the numbers on single rods show 1, 3, 5, 7 & 9. Designating rod F as the unit rod, the soroban on the right shows the number 42,386 on rods B, C, D, E and F.

How to use an abacus

Clearing an Abacus

First operation to be carried out on abacus before using it is called as clearing the Abacus. To clear or empty the abacus, it is placed flat on the table or other surface in front of you. Then you are required to then tilt the frame toward you, whereby the gravity will pull all the beads down.

By this operation all the earth beads have been cleared and are away from the beam. Again, place the abacus back onto the table. Right index finger is used and moved in a sweeping motion from left to right between top of the beam and bottom of heaven beads forcing the heaven beads to move away from the beam. During this operation the abacus is held by the left hand. As a result of this action, none of the rods carry any value. What we get now, as a result of above operation is known as a Cleared Frame.

Clearing an Abacus

Two Important General Rules

We shall now study two general rules which are essential for quickly and easily solving any addition and subtraction problem with the Soroban abacus.

  • Always work from Left to Right: Fundamental to good Soroban technique is the rule always work from left to right. This is against the practice, we are accustomed to, while doing the pen and paper calculations, but is very important in using an abacus. It’s one of the Soroban’s biggest advantages. It allows us to solve mathematical problems with great agility and speed, in part, because numbers are added and subtracted in exactly the same way we read and hear them.
  • Finding Complement: Second, the Abacus operator must be familiar with how to find complementary numbers, specifically, always with respect to 10. The value or the number that should be added to the original number to make the result of addition as 10 is the number’s complement. For example, the complement of 7, with respect to 10, is 3 and the complement of 6, with respect to 10, is 4.

In competent hands, an abacus is a very powerful and efficient calculating tool. Much of its speed while calculating with abacus is result of use of mechanization, where we minimize mental work as much as possible and to perform the physical task of adding and subtracting beads mechanically, without thought or hesitation, which in a way leads to a  process of thoughtlessness.

Finding Complementary numbers is a technique to achieve above objective.

Abacus Meaning

Abacus Meaning and its History

What is an Abacus and why was it invented?

It is presumed today, that in ancient times the need for mechanical calculating devices was felt due to

  1. 1

    Lack of numerical notation system in early times for counting. As a result, pebbles, shells, bones, knots on strings and human fingers were used as counting devices. As trade increased, the need for counting large inventory of goods sold or bought, also increased. 

  2. 2

    Scarcity of writing materials.

Initially, a very small stone was used to represent one object and number of objects was ascertained by counting the number of stones. The word calculate, in fact comes from Latin word calculus which means small stone. Slowly, people realized that this method can be used to count up to small numbers as bigger number required gathering large number of stones.

This led to principle of number base. At first, stones of different sizes were assigned different order of units. It was only a matter of time, before the concept evolved to arranging stones in columns marked on a surface and assigning them order of units, leading to the concept of a counting board.

Increased trade requirements led to the invention of various types of portable counting devices. So, abacus originated primarily as a counting board for large numbers. For this reason, It was also called a counting frame.

It is the view of the historians, that the first abacus consisted of a shallow tray filled with fine sand or dust and numbers were recorded and erased with a finger. It is also thought that the word abacus, might have come from the Greek word “abax“, meaning a reckoning table covered with dust. Abax itself is derived from Semitic word for “dust,” abq.

Who first invented the abacus and How old is the Abacus?

It is thought that this simple apparatus originated in Babylon about 4,400 years ago. Some evidence of its use in ancient times in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, Greece, China, Rome, Japan, India and Korea have been found.

Written records from Greek Historian Herodotus (480 – 425 BC) are the oldest surviving documents in history that refers to the use of Abacus. Use of abacus by Egyptians is also referred to, in these records.

Oldest physical counting board was discovered in the Greek island of Salamis in 1846. It dates back to 300 BC and is now kept in the Epigraphical Museum in Athens. It was made from a white marble of dimensions 149 cm x 75 cm x 4.5 cm. It had two sets of horizontal parallel lines engraved (5 lines in the upper area and 11 lines in lower area). Both the sets of lines are divided into half by a perpendicular line.

The third, sixth and ninth line of the 11 line set, is marked with a cross at the intersection.

As the number system evolved and Hindu – Arabic numerals came into use, abacus was adapted for place value counting. With the passage of time, it evolved into a calculating tool used for carrying out basic arithmetic calculations.

Hence we may define Abacus as a counting and calculating device used from ancient times, that performs basic arithmetic functions by manually sliding counters on rods or grooves. In modern times we may call it as a simple instrument for carrying out rapid arithmetic calculations. Person who uses an Abacus is called an Abacist.

Different Types of Abacus in Earlier Times

Three types of Abacus evolved in the earlier times – Dust, Line and Grooved abacus. 

  1. 1

    Dust Abacus was in the form of a board covered with fine sand or dust. On this board, lines were drawn, which represented different place values. Numbers were indicated by various lines or symbols across the lines. 

  2. 2

    Line Abacus – Ruled boards were used and pebbles or counters were placed across lines to represent numbers. Its use in Egypt, Greece, Rome and India is documented. Various forms of line abacus were in use in Europe till 17th Century.

  3. 3

    Grooved Abacus was used by the Romans. In this type, various grooves were carved on the board. Counters were moved up and down on these grooves to do the calculations. It had upper and lower grooves. In each of the upper grooves only one counter was laid, while four counters were used for lower grooves. Chinese 6th century documents have reference to the grooved-abacus.

All the above types of abacuses were in use in Rome at some time or the other.

Abacus in Recent Times

From the grooved form, fourth type of instrument evolved, which had beads moving on the rods fixed on frames. This is called as the rod or bead abacus and allows calculations to be made at much faster speed. In the 19th and 20th century, it was still used in Japan, China, the Middle East, Russia and other parts of the world. 

A modern abacus is made of wood or plastic, consisting of a rectangular frame with at least nine vertical rods strung with movable beads. The number of vertical bars and beads on each bar varies with location and culture, but the basic function of the abacus remains the same.

Abacus with twenty one bamboo rods is the most common form in Japan. Instruments with thirty-one, twenty-seven, seventeen and thirteen rods are also used.

Resurgence of Abacus Learning

However, the awareness of the importance of Abacus and Mental Arithmetic was rekindled once again in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s especially after the reports of the First and Second International Comparative Studies of Mathematics Achievement conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) were published. In both studies, the performance of the students from the Eastern countries was found to be consistently higher than the Western counterparts.

 Consequently, Abacus education has again gained a lot of prominence & importance and is now considered as an essential skill development education for children with large number of benefits.

What are the main techniques of Abacus Learning?

  • Use of Abacus: In this technique, we use an abacus to perform most arithmetic operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, square root and cubic root, etc.

  • Visualization: Instead of manipulating a physical abacus, in this technique, calculations are done mentally with an imaged abacus, and such calculation method is the so-called ‘‘abacus-based mental calculation (AMC)“. AMC is an efficient calculation strategy that can be mastered by children through Abacus training.

What is the History of the Abacus?

Different Abacuses in the World

Oriental Abacus

Old Chinese books on Mathematics do not carry any reference to Abacus. Hence, no definite information about the origin of Oriental Abacus exists. First reliable reference is found in a book Mathematical Treatises by the Ancients, compiled at the beginning of the third century by Hsu Yo. The book was annotated in the sixth century by Chen Luan.

In the notes added by Chen Luan, he describes the device as having three sections and talks about function and construction of each section. We get some idea of its usage from a verse in Hsu Yo’s poetical description of the board. The verse is figurative and subject to interpretations.

As per one of the popular interpretations of the verse, it was used in calculations related to astronomy, calendar, land surveys and human daily life affairs. 

From the description in the above texts, Oriental abacus appears to be similar in concept to the Roman grooved Abacus. The only difference is that in the Roman version, the counters were moved along the grooves, making them much slower in operation.

In the book by Hsu Yo, various other reckoning devices and boards are mentioned. Some used different colours of counters, light color for numbers between 1 to 5 and dark color for numbers 6 to 9. Some had different spatial arrangements.

Various reckoning devices mentioned in the book were in use, until phased out by more advanced and useful versions, due to steady developments. 

Oriental Abacus inspired by Roman Abacus

Some other reasons which suggest that Oriental Abacus was inspired by the Roman one are:

  1. 1

    Chinese is written in vertical columns from up to down. If they are forced to write in a horizontal line they will do so from right to left. However the numbers on abacus are worked in reverse direction. It is difficult to imagine that they will invent something opposite to their normal flow.

  2. 2

    Their numerical notation system as described above, was unsuitable for calculation. Suanpan, in its current form, was not developed till the twelfth century. Hence, they faced difficulty in fast calculations for larger numbers.

  3. 3

    So it is more likely, that having been introduced to Roman system, they continued using it and even developed it to be a very efficient calculating device. So much so, they continued using it even after being introduced to Hindu – Arabic numeral system.

Prof. Yamazaki and Prof. Suzuki of Nihon University cited the following evidence in their works in support of the above theory:

  1. 1

    Both had one five units counter and four one unit counters.

  2. 2

    The method of operation of ancient Chinese abacus was the same as Roman method. In this method, multiplication was done by repeated addition and division by repetitive subtraction and counting these repetitions. 

  3. 3

    Both Roman numerals and Chinese pictorial representation showed traces of Reckoning by 5’s. In Roman numerals, four is IV and six is VI.

  4. 4

    Trade relations existed between the two countries. Chinese documents have description of two routes known as silk roads between the two countries. 

Why Abacus Thrived in the East

We have noted so far that Abacus or similar devices were in use in all the ancient civilizations in some form or the other. Eastern civilizations (China and Japan) continued to use it, where it developed into an efficient calculating machine. Similar developments did not take place in the West. Let us look at some of the probable reasons. 

  1. 1

    Differences in numerical nomenclature and calculation systems – Numerical nomenclature and systems of calculations were significantly different between the east and the west. In Orient, the numbers were named and set from left to right on the calculating boards in use. Denominations decreased from left to right with highest denomination being on the extreme left and lowest on extreme right. Thus abacus was ideally suited for use with Chinese method of naming and using numbers on the board. This compatibility resulted in vast improvement and development to modern form.

  2. 2

    In ancient China and Japan, reckoning devices called Chancku and Zeichiku, respectively were used. These devices were used not only for basic arithmetic operations, but were also able to solve quadratic, cubic and simultaneous operations. During these times, however, there was little need for rapid calculations. Hence, abacus while in use, was not developed as much till the twelfth-century.

  3. 3

    With the rise of commerce and industry during the rule of Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1636 AD), use and development of abacus increased manifold.

  4. 4

    Abundance of bamboo as ideal raw material in Orient resulted in a highly efficient low cost device.

  5. 5

    Number of counters in the heaven area were increased to two to take care of the weight and currency systems in place. Two beads are also more suited to Chinese method of multiplications and division by the use of special division table. This method of division was in use there.

Why Abacus was not Similarly Successful in West

Line abacus was introduced in France in the Thirteenth-century and became quite popular. It was at one time used in households, businesses as well as in government offices till seventeenth-century. However, it failed to develop into an efficient rod abacus system in Europe. Some of the reasons are discussed below:

  1. 1

    Different countries in Europe used different numerical notations, such as duodecimal, sexagesimal, binary etc. Rod abacus cannot be used in an efficient manner on these systems.

  2. 2

    In Europe, however, with the introduction of Hindu – Arabic numerals, the development of instrumental arithmetic slowed down as they were more comfortable with graphic notations and abundant supply of writing materials further accelerated the decline.

Abacus in Use in Different Countries in Recent Times

Chinese Abacus or Suan-Pan

Chinese Abacus - Suanpan

The Chinese abacus has a horizontal bar which divides the frame into two parts, as shown above. The classic version of Chinese Abacus is called as the the “2/5 abacus”, because two beads are placed in the upper section of the abacus and five beads in the bottom one. It is also known by the name Suan-pan (arithmetic board) in Mandarin language and Soo-Pan in the Southern dialects of China.

It is thought to have been developed, in this form, around the 12th Century. However, it came into common use from the fourteenth century only.

Some of the important characteristics of the Suan-Pan are:

  • In Suan-pan, the area above the horizontal bar, is called heaven, and consists of two beads per vertical rod. Each of these beads has a value of five.

  • The lower area is called the earth. Each vertical rod in the earth area, contains five beads each, with each bead having a value of one.

  • Each vertical rod represents a unit of ten. Calculation is done by moving beads toward or away from the horizontal divider.

Japanese Abacus or Soroban

While, abacus came into popular use in Japan in the seventeenth century only, it is thought to have been known to their traders at least from the fifteenth century. It has been studied very extensively by many Japanese mathematicians, including the renowned Seki Kowa (1640 – 1708).

These studies resulted in a series of improvements in the structure, form and operational methodology of the abacus.

Initially, the Japanese abacus, inline with the Chinese version had 2/5 structure. In the mid – 1800s, the 2/5 abacus was replaced by the 1/5 abacus with only one bead in the heaven area. And by the 1920s, the most widely used form of abacus was the Japanese – made Soroban, or 1/4 abacus.

This is also the modern version and resulted from further simplification of structure by omitting yet another bead, this time below the beam, leaving a total of four beads in the earth area.

Parts of Japanese Abacus - Soroban
  • The numerical value of each bead depends on its location in the abacus. Each heaven-bead has a value of five times that of an earth bead below it and called as five units.

  • Each rod represents columns of written numbers. Beads on the vertical rod farthest to the right have their values multiplied by one. On this rod, each earth bead is one and each heaven bead is five.

  • Beads on the second rod from the right, however, have their value multiplied by 10. On this rod, each earth bead represents 10 and each heaven bead stands for 50. Beads on the third rod from the right have their value multiplied by 100, so that each earth bead represents 100 and each heaven bead stands for 500, and so on.

Russian Abacus

First reference of Russian abacus is found in an inventory book dated 1658. In Russia, it is called as Schoty and this abacus is still in use today, though no longer taught in schools now. The main features of Russian Abacus are:

Russian Abacus - Schoty
  • The rods in Schoty are in horizontal position, with ten beads on each rod and the beads are moved from right (home position) to left.

  • Only one rod has four beads only and this rod acts a separator for the numbers and fractions. This row represents the four quarters of fraction.

  • The rods are provided with curvature to prevent accidental sliding back of the beads to the home location.

  • The design of Russian Abacus can be thought to resemble human hands put together with palms facing down. Two sets of four beads each and of same colour are on the outside, like fingers of both the hands. Two innermost beads are of same colour but different to outside beads, kind of representing thumbs.

  • Row above the quarter row is the unit rod and each rod above represent 10s, 100s, 1000s and so on.

The Ripple Effects and the Future Prospects of Abacus Learning.

By Ms. Shizuko Amaiwa, Professor, Shinshu University, Faculty of Education

I have been engaged in research concerning the abacus for many years from the perspective of a psychologist. My research findings show that abacus study not only improves the ability to calculate both on the abacus and mentally, but also provides a beneficial ripple effect on other disciplines. This paper will explain what ancillary disciplines are influenced and the reasons for it. I will also discuss the characteristics of and future prospects for abacus learning.

The Ripple Effects of Abacus Learning

The first effect of learning abacus is improvement of numerical memory. The second is improvement of memory in spatial arrangement. The third is progress in solving general mathematical problems taught in elementary school, including the four fundamental arithmetic calculations and word problems.

The improvement of numerical memory

The first effect, the improvement of numerical memory, can be demonstrated by asking students to remember three- to nine-digit numbers read aloud and to recite the memorized items orally. Abacus students are found to be superior in the accuracy of their memory and the number of digits they are able to memorize when compared with non-abacus learners of the same age. This is because abacus students place numbers on the abacus image in their head as they mentally calculate with the abacus method. The retention of the numbers is certain if the number of digits does not exceed the limit of the mental image of the abacus. Utilization of the abacus image enables students even to recite the memorized numbers backwards. This is possible because of the application of the procedures used in the abacus method of mental calculation to solving the memorization assignment.

High marks due to improvement in memory of spatial arrangement

The second beneficial effect is the improvement in memory of spatial arrangement. This was examined by assigning students to remove the location of several small black dot. These dots were placed on different intersection point of squares made with 3 to 5 lines in both vertical and horizontal directions. The students first looked at these dots for a few seconds to memorize their location, then they were asked to recreate the same picture by placing black dots on blank squares. As a result, abacus learners were found to score higher than non-abacus learners. The spatial arrangement of the dots does not have the same numerical values as beads on the abacus board. However, we can speculate that the training to obtain the abacus image visually had the effect of making students sensitive to spatial arrangement.

Progress in solving general mathematical problems

The following three points are confirmed in terms of the effects of abacus study on progress in solving mathematical problems.

1. Findings from an investigation with third grade students show that about a year of study at an abacus school enabled the learners to score higher than non-abacus learners on certain mathematical problems. These mathematical problems include addition of one-digit numbers, multiplication of one-digit numbers, addition of multi-digit numbers, subtraction of multi-digit numbers, word problems in addition and subtraction, and fill-in-the-blank problems (e.g. providing the missing items in the following equation: [ ]-7 = 27). However, no difference was found in problems where conceptual thinking was required, such one in which students were asked to figure out the digit positions (i.e. to decide if the following two items are the same: {nine 10s + nine 1s} and {eight 10s + ten 1s}). Even beginning abacus learners can be said to benefit from the ripple effect in solving mathematical problems, except for those involving conceptual understanding.

According to the statistical analysis, the addition of one-digit numbers was affected most directly by abacus study. Accurate and rapid calculation of one-digit numbers was found to lead to better marks in multi-digit mathematical calculation, which further led to better marks on word problems and fill-in-the-blank problems. We can speculate that students had more time to think about the problems, and therefore scored higher on the assignment because they needed less time to work out simple calculations as a result of their abacus background.

2. On the higher level, advanced abacus learners were found to have received even more desirable effects in solving certain types of mathematical problems compared to non-abacus learners. These problems include the comparison of the size of the numbers (i.e. put the following five numbers in order: 0.42, 12, 3.73, 0.95, 10.1), the calculation of numbers with multiple choices of proposed answers (i.e. choose the correct answer from five choices of proposed answers for 1026.95 ÷ 103.1), and word problems. In addition, a positive effect was seen, not only in mathematical problems with integers and decimals, but also in those with fractions, especially when higher level thinking is required to solve them

In the abacus training, there are no fractions involved, but the ripple effect even affected problem solving in fractions. The abacus students were found to have transformed the fractions into decimals, in order to solve problems with fractions. They tried solving the problems by changing the numbers into the form they understood best.

3. As mentioned above, abacus learners tend to solve problems in a form in which they can utilize their knowledge of abacus calculation when confronted with various mathematical problems. This tendency was shown when abacus students were given problems of computational estimation (such as an assignment where students were to pick the figure in the largest digit position of the answer). In solving these problems, many abacus learners first calculated the whole problem then picked the figure of the largest digit position in the answer.

Merits of abacus study

To acquire the ability to calculate rapidly and accurately and to calculate mentally

Based on the results mentioned above, some advantages and characteristics of abacus learning are revealed. One of the advantages of abacus study is that learners can calculate simple mathematical problems rapidly and accurately. In addition, they acquire the ability of do mental calculation utilizing the abacus image, which allows quick calculation without actually using the abacus.

These characteristics show positive ripple effects on the solution of various mathematical problems. On the other hand, the learners’ calculation methods become fixed, and the students tend to lack flexibility in thinking out innovative ways to solve problems. It goes without saying that spending time on thinking out new ways to solve problems (such as thinking about the meaning of the calculation, or coming up with other ways to solve the problem) can be negative in terms of the amount of time needed to solve problems when the primary goal is rapid and accurate calculation. Since abacus training consists of accurate performance of simple procedures, there is no reason to change the method of traditional abacus education. However, I believe that some measures must be taken to keep the learners from being bored, since repetition of simple procedures is often accompanied by boredom.

At the beginning of the new century

I am currently considering adapting the principles of the abacus to computer software that teaches the concepts of digit position (meaning of zeros in numbers) to mentally challenged children. I have been trying to teach numbers and simple calculations to these children. They have great difficulty in understanding the concept of digit position, even though they could read and write numbers and do addition and subtraction of one-to two-digit numbers. In order to make learning fun, I have used an activity in which children carry a certain amount of money and go to their favorite store to buy something they like. However, the distinction between 13 yen and 130 yen was hard for them to grasp. I think the following reasoning could be used to provide a more easily comprehended explanation of the concept for them. On the abacus board, there can only be up to 9 in the units position. If 1 is added to 9, there will be a number in the 10s position and nothing, or zero, in the units column.

At the beginning of this, new century, I hope to expand the abacus education and give it new applications while, valuing its history.

Brain Development – Development of Right side of Brain


Dr. Toshio Hayashi, Doctor of Engineering
Professor, Osaka Prefecture University
Director, Research Institute for Advanced Science and Technology (RIAST)

Recent medical research has shown that various diseases are influenced by how the patients deal with their state of minds. People with active minds maintain their youthful energy longer. What can we do to heighten our brain activity?

Development of human brain

What is the structure of our brain like? How does the brain develop? Cerebral physiology has seen great developments. However, there still is much that is unknown about our brain. Our brain is truly amazing. What we know up to this point includes that the human brain is created at an early stage of embryo development and that cerebral nerve cells are already made by the time of birth. Within the brain, the brain stem (all living animals have it, and it controls the functions necessary for survival such as the functions of the heart and internal organs) and the cerebral archicortex (which controls basic instincts such as appetite, sexual desire, sleep, desire to belong to a group, and emotions such as pleasant and unpleasant feelings, fear, anger,etc) are basically completed while in the womb.

On the other hand, among animals of higher order, humans have the highly developed cerebral neocortex that can create nerve cells (some say there are 14 billion nerve cells!). This cerebral neocortex does not fully function at the time of birth. In the following years, suitable stimuli start to activate (to connect motor nerves and sensory nerves) the nerve cells in the neocortex. This is why children grow up well in many aspects if they receive appropriate stimuli that develop the nerve cells in the neocortex. The archicortex is more or less completed at the time of birth, but it of course can develop even further after birth. What is important here is that the archicortex requires “to be loved” and is responsible for the cultivation of aesthetic sentiments.
Humans cannot live without “being loved”. Only those who grew up being loved can learn to love as they grow older. With the help of a good archicortex, the neocortex will be activated efficiently. Even with hard work, efficiency will not improve without cooperation from the archicortex. In order to activate the nerve cells in the neocortex, information or stimuli from outside the brain have first to be perceived as “pleasant” by the archicortex. This is when the activation of the brain improves and the systems to process information in the neocortex are most efficiently completed. On the other hand, if the information or stimuli are perceived as “unpleasant”, the activation of the brain does not occur and the neocortex is suppressed to grow any further.

Move the fingers and talk in a loud voice

What does the activation of the nerve cells in the neocortex mean? Nerve cells in the neocortex consist of 14 billion sets of motor nerves and sensory nerves. These sets create the network (synapses) in which they contact each other and make up a living nervous system. The importance lies in how many sets of nerve cells we can activate in our lives. We can activate the nerve cells by providing “stimuli”. Moving fingers and talking aloud lead to activation by providing appropriate stimuli in the large part of sensory to motor domains in the cerebral neocortex. In this sense, starting abacus learning as young as possible is useful in activating the brains of young children. However, if children learn to use the abacus without wanting to do it, there will be no positive effects. If they come to like learning the abacus and move the beads on the abacus with fun, they will receive benefits from this experience. There is a key in making abacus-learning fun for young children so that they will grow to like it.

Development of the right side of brain by the abacus method of mental calculation

The human brain consists of the right brain and the left brain. The shapes of these two parts are similar, but differences have been gradually found in their functions. The left brain is also referred to as the digital brain. It controls reading and writing, calculation, and logical thinking. The right brain is referred to as the analog brain. It controls three-dimensional sense, creativity, and artistic senses. These two work together to allow us to function as humans. The Japanese are thought to speak Japanese with their left brain, and this allows their left brain to be more efficient. On the other hand, westerners also utilize their right brain to learn their languages, so their right brain is usually more efficient. It is natural that young Japanese students are better at mathematical calculation than students in western countries who are the same age. It is also natural that, because of the better development in their right brain, students in western countries are more creative and original than Japanese students.

In recent years, some have argued for the necessity of the Venture Promotion in Japan, but in order to foster this type of environment we need to develop an education system that would train the students’ right brain first. In addition, it is also found that if one trains the right brain, it is less likely to get dementia. Here, I would like to introduce the abacus method of mental calculation. In the abacus method of mental calculation, the learners manipulate abacus beads in their head to carry out a calculation. This had led us to speculate that this operation was effective in training the right brain or the analog brain. Thanks to the development of cerebral physiology and machines that can accurately measure the amount of blood flow in the brain, recent studies have proven that the abacus method of mental calculation is extremely effective in activating the right brain. This validated the speculation we had before. Therefore, I would like to ask all the abacus teachers to teach all learners the abacus method of mental calculation, no matter how briefly it may be. I consider the completion of abacus learning the mastery of the mental calculation.

Shining brain

Having grown up to be workers in various work places and providers for their families and contributors to society, many people retire from the forefront of the society and start the second stage of their lives. For these people, it is very important to live ample and healthy lives. In order to achieve this way of living, they have to remember to activate their brain as much as possible. There are many different ways to activate the brain, and one of them is the calculation with the abacus. In the abacus method of calculation, the abacus is not only the best way to exercise fingertips, but also positively influences the right brain to be activated. Although it may take a little more time than for younger people, activation in the cerebral nerve cells certainly does occur even at the age of a hundred. In this case also, they have to come to like the abacus first. Throughout the lifetime there is truth in the saying that you do well at what you like.

A “master of life” is a person who has a cooperation of the archicortex and the neocortex throughout their lifetime. To become a “master of life”, we have to always aim high. There is happiness in this process to achieve the goals of our life. We all shine by pursuing our dreams with high hope and something to live for. The higher the goal of our growth, the better our lives are. If the purpose of life is the process to achieve this goal, then I believe that the abacus education can be one of the significant guidelines for life. I would like us all to be “life-long healthy people with abacus”.

(This article is the summary of a lecture presented in Nikko Kinugawa, Tochigi, Tochigi prefecture on July 30th, 2000.)

Please visit our course page on Abacus & Brain Gym

Benefits of joining the abacus course

Benefits of joining the Abacus Course

In young kids the brain is constantly building to form new connections in response to the stimulation received. This process uses the 3 senses (tactile, visual and auditory) to develop and balance the mental, physical, social interaction, emotional, personality and confidence of children. Regular practice of abacus, Brain gym and Speed writing helps children in the above process by improvement in academics through improved concentration & focus, comprehension, retention and recall, logical reasoning and speed & accuracy of computing skill. Specifically, benefits of joining the abacus course can help your child in the following ways..

Benefits of Abacus Course

Improves concentration and focus:

In a study conducted by the Decker Avenue School, California, researchers analysed the effects of abacus training on children in a classroom. It was found that the students who received abacus training showed a significant improvement in concentration levels.

Improves memory and visualization

A two-year long study titled “The Effect of Abacus Training on Chinese Children’s Mental Calculation” showed that the abacus learners had better auditory and visual memory compared to non-abacus learners. Another research has shown that abacus learning can improve visualization, which is attributed to the fact that abacus students visualize an abacus in their mind. The visualization ability is useful to students in other fields of study as well.

Encourages the use of right side of the brain:

The left side of the brain focuses on the analysis of information. The right side of the brain focuses on visualization, creativity and thinking. Usually, the left temporal region is used for performing mathematical calculations with pen and paper. Abacus training stimulates the right side of the brain, thereby improving your child’s ability to memorise, visualise, and observe.

Develops logical understanding

Over time, children develop the ability to imagine an abacus in their mind and to make mental calculations. When a child visualizes the maths question on the imaginary abacus, he/she has to think and apply logic to do the correct movement of beads in mind. Repeatedly performing mental math builds their ability to apply logic in other day-to-day life scenarios a well.

Build a concrete foundation for mathematics:

Mathematics can be a puzzle to some. However, learning abacus builds a firm understanding of maths right from the formative years. With the visual aid of an abacus, all abstract concepts of math are transferred to tangible beads. Children have to count the beads, and this develops their hand-eye coordination. With practice, the child develops an image of the abacus in his/her head to perform mental maths. Overall, it is a fun way to get introduced to more complex mathematics.

Improved understanding of math:

Research has shown that advanced abacus learners are better at solving certain types of mathematical problems compared to those who were not trained in abacus. Abacus training improves the child’s capability of solving mathematical problems with integers, decimals, and fractions, and problems requiring higher level of logical thinking.

Highlights of the Abacus & Brain Gym Course

  • Program designed by certified trainer for Abacus (by China Abacus Association) and International Instructor and facilitator of Brain Gym (by Educational Kinesiology foundation) Mr. Kelvin Tham
  • Only International program which combines Abacus and Brain Gym techniques for whole brain development
  • 29 days of exhaustive training for instructors followed by up-gradation sessions
  • Child friendly course material
Best learning age for the children

Brain development and BEST LEARNING AGE for children

This article discusses Brain Development and best learning age for children, brain development including brain wiring and nervous tissue growth, importance of development of both sides of the brain.

Brain Development

For years, scientists have known that what happens – or doesn’t happen – during the first few years makes a big difference in a child’s later life, and that babies who do not get enough love and attention in infancy are less likely to be well-adjusted adults.

Thanks to brain imaging technologies, we now have a clearer understanding of how the brain functions, both before and after birth.

Two most important factors related to development of the brain and ability to learn are

1.       Brain and Nervous tissue growth

2.       Development of both sides of the brain which are discussed below

Brain and Nervous tissue growth

Wiring the Brain

A baby is born with about 100 billion neurons, the basic brain cells responsible for all major functions that happen in the body. Neurons exist throughout the central nervous system. Thinking, feeling, breathing, walking, and all other functions in the brain happen because these cells communicate. The number of neurons remains nearly constant from birth on, but the number and complexity of connections among neurons changes dramatically throughout the child’s life.

During the first year or two, neurons make many more connections than the baby will use. The developing brain is a little like a fertile garden. When we plant a garden, we plant more seeds than needed to ensure that some of them grow and thrive. When too many seeds sprout, there is not enough room for the healthiest plants to thrive. By weeding out some plants, we allow more room for the crops to grow. The brain has a similar “weeding” process, called pruning. Pruning is a normal part of brain development that creates more space for the most important networks of connections to expand and helps the brain conduct signals more efficiently.

Variation of Nervous tissue growth rate with age

According to the analysis on the development of nervous tissues, the development and growth of the nervous tissues will happen from 4 to 6 years old at the fastest pace and the progression will slow down after 12 years of age, when growth has reached to 75 % levels.

During juvenile period, these cells will grow up to 90 % of an adult or in other words, the liaison net of the nervous tissue will reach to 90%.

The greatest growth of human brain happens during the age from 4 years to 14 years. During this period, the frequency of brain wave increases gradually from Theta (relaxing stage) to Alpha level (relaxing but conscious). Children in Alpha level have plentiful imagination and quicker learning ability.

As they grow older into their juvenile age (the Beta level, the sober period), thought will become more complicated and rational, and they will mainly think with their left brain.

Importance of development of both sides of the brain

The relativity theory introduced in 1905 and 1916 by Einstein had shocked the science circles. He illustrated the relativity theory as an outcome of an idea. He used his right brain to create an amazing journey of thought and use his left-brain to develop a set of mathematical theories to explain the fairyland he saw.

The drawings, composition, lines and model in rough draft of Piccaso have shown the mathematical and geometrical concept.

These proved that there are hidden potential of science and arts in every brain, the only difference is that both brains are not equally developed, otherwise this will double out the network growth progress.

Control of different organs

A lot of physiological organs of the human body are divided in to right and left parts. Some of them appear symmetric on the surface, but the function is not symmetric at all. For instance, the right and left hands are different in strength and skill, so is the visual sensitiveness of the right and left eyes. For the same reason, the function of the right and left hemisphere of the brain is not symmetric either.

The different cognitive forms of the two hemispheres are mutually complementary and co-operative and develop harmoniously, making up the whole function of the human brain.

“The theme to emerge from this is that there appears to be two modes of thinking, verbal and nonverbal, represented rather separately in the left and right hemisphere respectively and that our education system, as well as science in general tends to neglect the nonverbal from the intellect. What is come down to is that modern society discriminates against the right hemisphere.

Need to train both sides of brain to train together

To give equal rein to the overall intelligence of the cerebrum, both the right and left brain must be trained at the same time. The creativity will at its greatest only when both brains are communicating and co-operating with each other. The creativity function from right brain need to be boosted by the information stored in left brain, whereas the mathematical and physical abilities must work together with the space perception from the right brain to become an excellent scientist, engineer, literati, designer and business man.

Therefore, as a parent to you children, in order to explore and enhance the children’s intelligence, the best learning time for your children is the age before 15 and development of both sides of brain is very important.