I’m gearing up for March with some rainbow activities for St. Patrick’s Day and spring – including some St. Patrick’s Day math activities! Kicking things off is this DIY abacus that’s perfect for rainbow math and fine motor skills. I love that I was able to put it together with a variety of materials we already had on-hand.
Related: Spring Activities for Preschoolers
how to make an abacus for rainbow math fun
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Pipe cleaners (1 for every color of the rainbow)
Stretchy craft string
Colorful pasta or beads (every color of the rainbow)
Large craft sticks
Depending on age and interest, the kiddos can most definitely help make the abacus! I know my son was intrigued enough to want to help with the process.
Paint the sticks if desired. Use a glue gun to make the sticks into a square frame for the abacus. I used an already assembled and painted craft stick frame that I had leftover from summer camp. It was painted with a whitewash (watered-down white acrylic paint).
Clip two pieces from each pipe cleaner. Mine were about an inch or so each – enough to wrap around the craft stick.
Clip off six lengths of the stretchy string. Ensure that each length is a little longer than the width of the stick frame.
Grab one of the red pipe cleaner pieces. Tie one end of one of the strings to the pipe cleaner. Be sure to double- or triple-knot the string. Wrap that piece of pipe cleaner to left-hand side of the stick frame, up near the top. Add ten red beads to the string. We used leftover dyed pasta from our Bear Sees Colors sensory bin. Stretch the string to the other end of the frame, taking care not to dislodge the beads/pasta. Tie that end of the string to the second red pipe cleaner piece. Then wrap that end around the right side of the stick frame. Repeat for each of the colors in the rainbow.
I used the pipe cleaner pieces because they made it easier to use the clear stretchy string on the frame. When I tried to tie the string directly to the frame, I had to knot is so many times for it to stay. I didn’t want to use the pipe cleaners instead of the string, as the pasta would blend in with the pipe cleaners too much.
I think it actually took me longer to write the directions than it did to put together the abacus!
Related: Rainbow Color Collage Art Project for Kids
using the abacus for rainbow math
To start off with, just let the kiddos explore the abacus and play around with it on their own. It’s always fun to see what the children do on their own, and listening to their observations is entertaining!
Now that the abacus is ready to go, it’s time for some rainbow math fun! I really think this abacus can be used for a variety of things. Here are some math ideas to use with young children –
- Have the children count each bead as they move the bead from left to right. This works on counting up to 10, left-to-right progression, and fine motor skills.
- In pairs, this could be made into a dice game challenge. Kiddos roll a die, move their beads from left to right, and the first person with all his beads moved to the right wins. This works on counting, subsitizing, left-to-right progression, and fine motor skills.
- Bring out some number cards. Children work on moving the correct amount of beads from left to right.
How would you use this DIY abacus?
more rainbow activities to check out
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
Rainbow in a Bag – No Mess Art // Powerful Mothering
Rainbow Letters Race to the Top // Stay at Home Educator
Color and Shape Match Up // Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
Stack a Stone Rainbow // Adventures of Adam
Rainbow Pasta Threading // Play and Learn Everyday
Rainbow Tinker Tray // Still Playing School
How to Flip a Rainbow | Simple Science for Kids // Lemon Lime Adventures
Rainbow Sun Craft // Fairy Poppins
Rainbow Pencil Control Exercises // Sugar Aunts
Beginning Sound Rainbows // Playdough to Plato
DIY Rainbow Crayon Names // Pre-K Pages
Rainbow Puzzle Skip Counting // Creative Inclusion
Rainbow Bear Color Matching Game // Life Over Cs
Rainbow Marble Painting Process Art // Preschool Inspirations
DIY Paper Plate Loom: Rainbow Yarn Art // Sugar Spice and Glitter
Rainbow Sight Words // The Kindergarten Connection
Rainbow Math with a DIY Abacus // Fun-a-Day
Rainbow Fact Family Board Game // Liz’s Early Learning Spot
Simple Rainbow Sensory Bottle for Kids // Coffee Cups and Crayons
Rainbow Paint Chip Color Match // Modern Preschool
Roll a Rainbow // The STEM Laboratory
(Not Shown) Rainbow Perler Bead Key Ring // Teach Me Mommy
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I love your ideas, can’t wait to play these with my kids and students, they will surely love them too)))
Mary Catherine says
Thanks so much, Olga! 🙂