# Abacus Math Program – Lesson 1 – Counting 1 to 5

Learning to use the abacus or soroban is learning to transform every arithmetic problem to a single digit operation similar to the four standard math algorithms taught in elementary school. By reducing problem complexity to just single digit operations, abacus users quickly gain both speed and accuracy. The RightLobeMath online abacus math program starts by teaching students 6 simple math calculation techniques, skill training, that will lead to mastering all possible addition and subtraction problems. After skill training, students learn to extend these techniques into multiplication and division. Completing the RightLobeMath program students gain a deep understanding of our base 10 number system, mastery of all arithmetic operations, and amazing mental calculation skills.

In this first abacus math lesson we will introduce the numbers 1 through 5 and how to add and subtract 1 through 5 on the abacus. We will also show each finger movement used to add or subtract each number on the abacus. Students should try to follow the suggested finger movements throughout their training. First clear the soroban, as shown in Abacus Basic Use and Introduction to Counting, so no beads are touching the reckoning bar and then add each number and remove each number with the respective finger movements shown. Building these finger movements now will allow for speed and accuracy as the student learns to solve more complex problems. Sloppy technique will only slow a students progress so practice the movements with a focus on precision. Speed will come later.

Add the number 1 to the abacus using your thumb to move 1 lower bead to the reckoning bar. Subtract the number 1 from the abacus using your index finger by moving 1 lower bead away from the reckoning bar. Add the number 2 to the abacus using your thumb to move 2 lower beads to the reckoning bar. Subtract the number 2 from the abacus using your index finger by moving 2 lower beads away from the reckoning bar. Add the number 3 to the abacus using your thumb to move 3 lower beads to the reckoning bar. Subtract the number 3 from the abacus using your index finger by moving 3 lower beads away from the reckoning bar. Add the number 4 to the abacus using your thumb to move 4 lower beads to the reckoning bar. Subtract the number 4 from the abacus using your index finger by moving 4 lower beads away from the reckoning bar. Add the number 5 to the abacus using your index finger to pull the upper bead down to the reckoning bar. Subtract the number 5 from the abacus by again using your index finger to move the upper bead away from the reckoning bar. Remember the upper bead has a value of 5 while each of the 4 lower beads have a value of 1. Practice each of the bead and finger movements by sequentially counting from 1 to 5. Start by adding and subtracting 1, then 2, then 3, and so on. In a short period of time students will be proficient in all the bead movements. Next up in Lesson 2 we look at the numbers 6 to 9.