How to Make a Pipe Cleaner and Bead Abacus

Category Educational
Long before there was a written numeral system, the abacus was used as a calculating tool. Make a simple one to help teach your young children counting and more advanced math. This is a page about how to make a pipe cleaner and bead abacus.


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An easy and educational learning tool for kids learning their name, numbers and alphabet. Made with soft felt and pipe cleaners perfect to bring on the go and fits in your child's hand. As you can see it got a lot of usage from the bent pipe cleaners!

Total Time: 30 minutes


  • assorted colored beads
  • letter beads
  • pipe cleaners
  • felt
  • cardboard
  • hot glue


  1. I cut out a piece of sturdy cardboard 6 by 9 inches. Using hot glue apply glue on the cardboard and stick black felt down covering the entire cardboard front and back.
  2. Using assorted pipe cleaners thread on beads of your choice. For the first row, I put my child's name, then rows abacus style of 1 to 10, then at the bottom, two rows of alphabet letters. Once complete threading the beads in the order you would like, figure the layout you would like them to be on the felt. I put name, numbers, and alphabet.
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  4. Grabbing the pipe cleaners with your beads in the order you like, one by one, place over the felt and fold over the felt on both sides. Where you fold the pipe cleaners on both sides apply hot glue to hold the pipe cleaners down. Repeat until you are finished.
  5. Using extra black felt or any felt, cover the backing where the pipe cleaners were glued so it does not get snagged. Sometimes the pipe cleaners ends could be sharp, as well.
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