Melissa and Doug Abacus Review

I’ve always wanted an abacus. I just like the way they look. I have a habit of buying wooden toys because I like the way they look over plastic flashy ones partly because they just look more attractive (also because of environmental issues, but mostly because flashy musical toys are just really bloody annoying).  When I saw the Melissa and Doug wooden abacus on offer on Amazon for a bargain £6.00 I gave in to temptation. I thought Skylar might be a bit old for it and Tiggy too young, but I thought at least Tiggy would grow into it. I am pleased to be proven wrong however, and as we’ve used it so much I just wanted to give it a quick review.

Not only is it useful for what it’s famous for. A basic calculator, simple addition, subtraction, division, looking at number bonds, skip counting, looking at tens and units, we’ve found a few other ways of playing with it. Firstly here’s Skylar using it for simple counting, when she runs out of fingers when doing maths games like Sum Swamp. Yes she’s wearing pyjamas and swimming goggles.


She had far more fun than I anticipated making patterns with it. I found some great pattern printables on this Melissa and Doug blog post, via Pinterest here.  She also likes to take it in turns to make a pattern (or a picture or a letter), to take a photo, and then to shake it up and try and copy what the other one did from memory. I’ve done this with her, and she also asked to get it down when a friend came so they could do it too, so it must pass the fun test.




 We built on the pattern sheets by talking about symmetry.



The quality is fantastic, it’s solid and robust, my friends toddler tried to climb and stand on the top of it, and even jumped on it with shoes on, and whilst I can’t sing it’s praises highly enough to include it in gymnastics, I wasn’t at all concerned it would be damaged. And even Tiggy loves it too. Like a bead frame, she loves to move the beads along the wires, and she loves to bat at them and spin them with her hand and fingers which makes a great sound. She loves to spin things so it’s a great toy for her. And although it’s too heavy for her, one of us often uses it as musical instrument, by shaking it from side to side whilst she has a rattle or maracas. There are no sharp corners on it, but it is heavy, and she has started to try and pull herself up on it now so she can’t be left with it, but with supervision she plays with it a bit every day.


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