Buying a Soroban
If you want to teach this Japanese method of mental math to your child, you will need a special type of abacus called a Soroban. Depending on the age of your child, there are different versions available. For instance, the Pacchi is recommended for children age 3-5 years old because the beads are larger which makes it easier to manipulate for little fingers with poorer dexterity. If you can’t find one locally, you can try purchasing it online from Tomoe Soroban – they have a range available and their prices are very reasonable (prices include shipping).
If you’re not ready to buy a physical abacus, you can download a virtual one and give it a go before deciding.
Soroban Books and Resources
Tomoe Soroban has a good introduction on how to use the Soroban – although this is more on which fingers to use, etc. rather than teaching you how to add, mutiply, etc. Tomoe Soroban also has a free site called Super Sharp Brain (you will need to register and although they say you need to pay, the site has recently been made a free site so you can ignore that part) that you can sign up to that will give you level by level problems to work out using the Soroban. Tomoe Soroban also has a list of physical schools around the world you can attend. Currently, the only listings are in US, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.
Tomoe Soroban recommend the following books for learning how to use the Soroban:
These books aren’t available at the local bookstores – couldn’t even find anything in Kinokuniya! If you want to get them, it’s probably best to buy them from Tomoe Soroban. They cost an arm and a leg on Amazon because they don’t appear to be in print any more. Personally, I wasn’t keen on “The Japanese Abacus: It’s Use and Theory” because the sample page didn’t look very reader friendly.
Math Abacus also sells some books that you can also use for teaching the principles of using the Soroban to your child. To see what their books are like you can down load a few pages for free – these are the workbooks. I’m not sure what the teaching books are like, but the activities in the workbooks look okay.
Alternatively, there is Math Secret which is basically a program application. Math Secret also sells workbooks which are currently only available from Amazon. I’m not sure how good the program is, but I am leaning towards this.
There is also Abacus Mind Math which is available for purchase on Amazon:
If you know any another other resources, please share them in the comments below. Meanwhile, take a look at the Soroban versus the Calculator: