DIY: Grade 2 Makes Sorobans

Ross second graders, who have been using sorobans in math, recently took kinesthetic learning to a whole new level. After watching the students work with these abacus-like tools, Ross parent and artist Nico Yektai invited the class to his studio to assemble their own sorobans.

“We are currently using the soroban as one strategy for two-digit subtraction. It really helps the students see the numbers visually and allows them to learn kinesthetically as they move the beads,” said teacher Bill Miller.

Developed in Japan, the soroban is composed of an odd number of columns or rods, each having one bead with a value of five and four beads with a value of one. The students made their sorobans out of wood cut by Nico, connecting the joints using wood glue.

Ross adopted the soroban as a tool to use in math because it can visually demonstrate the decimal system, making calculations easier to understand. In addition, after working with this tool, students have become noticeably more adept at working out mathematical problems in their heads.

“We had a great time!” said Math Domain Chair Danielle Goodwin. “There were many different mathematics at Nico’s workshop besides the sorobans we made. There were natural fractal patterns in the thin slices of wood that Nico showed us. And he taught us how to make curved wood, which includes mathematics all the way up to calculus!”