This giant version of a classic abacus is a great way to get toddlers thinking about counting, long before they are aware of concepts like addition and subtraction. To set up, you simply need any object that your toddler can slide along a string, as well as a sturdy stool or chair. Tie a string to one leg of the stool with a secure knot, then add whatever items you’ll be sliding.
First, I tried out large wooden beads on one string and pipe cleaners looped into circles on a second. Tie the other end of the strings securely to the stool. But Veronika wanted to grab these big items off so much that this version was short-lived!
I moved on to a second version, this time stringing small pony beads onto the string. Now, Veronika loved sliding the beads back and forth!
She already mimics counting up to about 5, so I showed her how to slide and count. “One, two, three!” she parroted.
Of course, being a toddler, she also just loved the way the strings dangled on the stool, and enjoyed solo time twisting the beads around.
This was a great way to keep her busy – and make her feel included! – for part of home school. Other ideas for threading include large buttons or straws cut into pieces.