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Back to Basics: Using an Abacus to Teach Patterns

2013-05-03 by Genny Upton
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Our guest blogger and homeschool expert Genny Upton, of In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play, shares ways of using an abacus to teach patterns – plus 4 free printable pages!

printable abacus activity cards

One item we use in our homeschool a lot is an abacus: We’ve been using it to practice counting and skip counting since our children were toddlers.  Just recently, we also began using the abacus for math pattern practice. My children enjoy making patterns on the abacus so much that I created some abacus pattern cards to further challenge them. These pattern cards not only guide children to recreate patterns of varying difficulties, but also help build other key skills we’ve been working on at home, like following directions, matching, counting, fine motor skills, and concentration.

Using the Abacus Pattern Cards

Click here to download the Abacus Pattern Cards and print them (preferably in color for younger kids). (Tip: If you want them to last longer, try printing on heavier paper, gluing to card stock, or laminating.)

Then, give your child a pattern to recreate using their abacus (you can give one-at-a-time, and walk through the pattern activity together, or give a series of printables to your child to do on their own.)  Younger children may need guided help on how to use the cards to make the patterns on their own abacus, while older children should be able to do the activity more as an independent activity.


back to basics using an abacus to teach patterns



back to basics using an abacus to teach patterns



back to basics using an abacus to teach patterns


There are 20 different pattern cards included, with 3 extra challenges for lots of math fun. Plus, you can also use some of these activities to introduce the concept of symmetry, and review letters and shapes.


While these pattern cards are great for school math time, this is also a great activity to keep on a shelf for children to choose as an independent activity on their own, or as a boredom buster on a rainy day.

How do you use your abacus at home? Do you have any unique or fun activities you’ve created along the way? Share with us in the comments below, or join the conversation on Facebook!

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Genny Upton

Genny Upton is the author of In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. She is a former teacher who shares activities she does with her own two children at home. Visit Genny today at InLieuOfPreschool.com and ParentTeachPlay.com, on Facebook at In Lieu of Preschool or Parent Teach Play, and on Google+. Don’t miss her family-friendly Pinterest boards!

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