The other day I was reading a book to the third graders in my class and the book had a lot of numbers in it. Like: "I have 2 brothers and 1 sister", "I have 9 brothers and 12 sisters." and finally the fish said "I have 1,928,538 brothers and 1,276,301 sisters." or something silly like that. The fun was to see if the kids could say the numbers. And one boy I noticed was "scribbling" on the table with his finger as he said the numbers and at the end of the book he said
"That means there are 3,xxx,xxx brothers and sisters in all."
It seems that Keita-kun goes to abacus class and he likes to compute numbers.
"What's with all the scribbling?"
"Oh, I have an imaginary abacus in my head and I was moving the imaginary beads to get the answer."
WHAT? I didn't understand that much more.
This last week Keita-kun brought his abacus and practice book so that he could show me how he uses the abacus. And he explained in detail how he computes but I'm afraid it was so complicated that I didn't understand that either.
"And how old are you?"
"I'm seven years old." (Good English!)
"And how long have you been doing abacus?"
"Since 4 or 5."
Keita-kun demonstrated his calculating prowess. Slap that abacus on the table, position the numbers directly under it, zip your finger across the beads, and at lightening speed start snapping them up and down.
"Wait a minute. What all can you do? You can add and subtract... How about multiply and divide?"
"Oh yes, I can do that too."
and Keita-kun flipped to the end of his practice book. And proceeded to show me how he does division problems. I was long lost on the process but the important thing is that Keita-kun definitely knew what he was doing.
"Wow! You're a genius!"
"Oh no. I didn't pass into the next level on my last test. I wasn't fast enough."
"How fast do you have to be? How fast can you do a problem?"
So number 50 is the division problem he did while I timed him. And Keita-kun solved it correctly in 22 seconds (checked the answer in the back of the book... I wouldn't have been able to give you the correct answer even with a calculator).
Sort of looks like a genius too, doesn't he? Can't wait to see what he grows up doing in life!