Arithmetic using a Taptana

Last weekend I learned how to use a Taptana. It is a calculating tool that seems to originate from South America, equivalent to an abacus. Same same, but different. 🙂

This is what it looks like:

This version of the Taptana was popularized in (Montessori) education circles by Rebeca and Mauricio Wild, founders of the alternative school project Pesta.

The board has two sides. On each side, 9 dents are representing the digits 1-9, arranged in a spiral. The larger dent on top represents zero. The board is worked with differently colored beads, each color (or shape) representing one decimal position. Placing a unit bead in the 4 dent and a hundred bead in the 8 dent, for example, would represent the number 804.


(Image via NewLearningCulture Taptana instructions)

Addition is then done by placing one number on the left, and one on the right side. Then, position by position, the number on the left moves backward as the number on the right moves forward. See the process in action here:

The Taptana can also be used for multiplication, subtraction and division. More (Spanish) instruction videos can be found on YouTube. It has definitely been fun to play with!

(In Austria, Taptanas are produced by ‘Der Spielzeugmacher‘).



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