Small Kids, Big Beads?

I’m looking into getting a soroban (Japanese-style abacus), to learn how to use one, and to see if they’d be useful when I’m working with students. Also, they’re just plain cool. They’re not easy to find, but I found a place online, which appears to be the place to go to get them, at least if you live in the US.

Anyway, what I noticed while going through their catalog (they sell lots of different abacuses in different sizes and materials), is that every single one that is listed as being good for kids says something like, “has big beads so it’s good for kids” in the description. Here’s one for elementary students, and here’s another one for 3-5 year olds. What I don’t understand is why little kids would need bigger beads. They have little fingers! Sure, they probably don’t have the same hand-eye coordination that adults have, because they’re still developing it, but how are they going to learn if they don’t get to practice? Can anyone explain this to me?

(Yes, I realize this is the Montessorian in me speaking. Montessori kids work with tiny beads, sharp scissors, needles and thread, etc, from the time they’re 3 or 4, so it seems obvious to me that they can. What I don’t understand is why the opposite seems obvious to, say, the people selling these abacuses.)


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