I have blogged before about my friend Jeffrey Weitzel and his local banjo making business.
His work had a slow point last Winter, and my family's account with Fidelity Charitable had grown with the stock market in 2014. So I commissioned him to make a special set of abacuses for Edgewood Elementary School. I sent money from Fidelity Charitable to the school to cover the cost.
A normal abacus is dreadful in a room full of first graders. When jostled its beads move into the wrong places. Flipped over it drives like a car.
But these mancala-style abacuses work great. For several months my weekly volunteer time focused on teaching all three first-grade classrooms how to use them. The kids learned about place value and adding numbers bigger than twenty.
Smiley has owned an abacus for about two years. I had bought the fun Aba-Conundrums book for him. That book also provided more fun things to do in the classrooms.