Rekenrek vs Abacus (Danish): Which is Better? 

rekenrek vs abacus

Abacus, Soroban, Suanpan, Rekenrek, Danish Abacus–so many names and abaci! 


I know it’s confusing. With all the varieties of counting devices and different types of the abacus, it’s understandable that you, as a parent, are confused and worried. And if you are an adult who is starting out on learning abacus, then I can completely understand what you are going through!

When I enrolled my nephew in abacus classes, I was confused. I didn’t know which type of abacus the teacher was using and if it was good for him or not. The worst part was that I had nobody to ask or anything on the internet to clarify my doubts.

I went through a lot of research papers and books. Now, I know the different meanings of the terms and which is good for our little one.

So, let’s find out what wins in rekenrek vs. abacus without any delay

Is Abacus Just a Counting Frame?

Be it Rekenrek or the Danish Abacus, all the terms are related to the abacus, right? So, first, let’s find out what an abacus is.

Ever heard the term counting frame? Yep?

>>>>A counting frame is a wooden or metallic, or plastic structure with features and attributes to help you count or calculate certain mathematical operations. There were several types of counting devices. An abacus is one of those types.

An abacus is a type of counting device made of wood, metal, or plastic to do basic mathematical operations. 

A regular abacus has several rods, beads on the rods, and a sturdy frame.

On the whole, yes, the abacus is a counting frame.

From my experience, learning abacus with the little one in our family was as much as making a DIY abacus. To know more about abacus, please go on this link, and to know what’s the fuss about these terms, stay with me right here.

The Roots of Abacus go as back as in 27th BCE.
Want to know more? Read the History of Abacus to find out.
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What are the Different Types of Abacus?

different types of abacus

If you go through the history of the abacus, you will realize that it’s nothing less than the history of mankind. It’s like reading a very specific journey of human civilization in math and calculations. ‘

In the beginning, we had the Salamis tablet; next, the Roman abacus. Then we had the rise of the Chinese abacus, suanpan, which single-handedly changed calculation, math, and transaction for mankind.

It was used both in the East and West for business transitions in day-to-day markets, calculating taxes and land revenues, and learning math.

Later on, it evolved into the Japanese abacus/modern suanpan, known as soroban. In addition to that, we also have the Russian abacus, schoty. So, the most popular types of Abacus are a few. Find the names below.

Different Types of Abacus are:

  • Danish Abacus: It has 10 horizontal rods with 10 colorful beads on each of them.
  • Suanpan: It comes with more than 7 vertical rods, horizontally intersected by a beam. The upper deck has 2 beads, and the lower deck has 5 beads on each rod.
  • Soroban: It’s similar to Suanpan, but features only 1 bead on the upper deck rods, and 4 beads on the lower deck rods.
  • Schoty: It’s the Russian version of abacus. It has 12 horizontal rows with 10 beads on each of them, except the the third last row with only 4 beads.
  • Rekenrek: It has 2 horizontal rods with 10 colorful beads on each of them.

Interestingly, all these complicated, smart versions evolved into a simple abacus with only ten beads on ten horizontal rods each. This type of abacus is commonly used at schools in western countries.

Find out about Abacus in detail and its Parts and Uses.
Read What is Abacus to find out.

Which Abacus is used in Schools?

Although once it was a calculator to conduct business, today, Abacus is a remarkable teaching aid. Many schools, brain development programs, and mental math courses use the abacus as a teaching tool.

Chinese, Japanese, and Taiwanese schools use the soroban/modern suanpan to teach the primary classes. As a result, there are jobs in Asian countries that require a certificate in Abacus learning.

In American and European schools, people use the abacus with horizontal strings to teach elementary classes.

The abacus with horizontal strings is again found in two models–one with 2 strings and another with 10 strings.

The one with 2 strings is called the Rekenrek abacus, and the other one with 10 strings is known as the Danish abacus.

What is Rekenrek Abacus? Is a Rekenrek an Abacus?

rekenrek vs abacus
Credits: Amazon

Yes, it’s an abacus. The frame with 2 horizontal strings and 10 beads on each string is the Rekenrek abacus. The beads are colored in white and red–5 in white and 5 in red.

The word rekenrek means “counting frame” in Dutch.

In short, it’s kind of the shortcut version of the Danish abacus. (To find out what a Danish abacus is, keep reading this blog.)

You might also have heard the terms like Two-Bar Rekenrek and Twenty Math Rack. My nephew’s preschool teacher used to call it the twenty-number rack.

The names change from place to place, school to school. Just remember, a Rekenrek has 2 rows and 20 beads. 

It’s commonly used in preschools and elementary schools across America and Europe.

A rekenrek abacus measures 6 5/16″ × 3 3/8″ × 2 3/8″. 

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How to Count Using a Rekenrek

The counting method is similar to an abacus.

Push all the beads towards the left-hand side and keep pushing the beads one-by-one towards the right while counting.

Don’t forget to count from left to right. Also, provide your kid/students the liberty to play the rekenrek from both sides.

Using two hands while moving the beads has cognitive benefits and makes children happy. Also, you can ask them to find out various ways of completing one addition/subtraction sum.

For instance, you can ask the little learner to find several ways to count 8.

Ask them to count 4 white beads and 4 white beads. You can also ask them to push 4 beads on the first row and 4 on the second row towards the left.

It will help them develop number sense, learn to count, and understand addition and subtraction strategies.

Wondering how to do Addition on Rekenrek?
Read How to do Basic Math Operation on Abacus to find out.

What is the Danish Abacus?

The abacus with 10 horizontal strings and 10 beads on each string is the Danish abacus. The beads are either in different colors on each row or 5 beads in white and 5 in red on each row.

rekenrek vs abacus

It’s the simplified version of the soroban abacus. It’s America’s favorite abacus. You will find this in almost every household that uses a counting device for kids.

Americans love the Danish abacus because it works perfectly with the American place value system.

You may have heard this frame called Ten Bar Rekenrek or 100 Math Rack. Remember, it’s a counting device with 100 beads. That’s all.

Looking for an Abacus instructor? Hire EnthuZiastic Abacus Experts to master abacus in no time.

How to Count

The counting method is the same as Rekenrek. You count while sliding the beads from right to left and count from left to right.

As it has 10 rows, you can also solve basic math operations involving bigger numbers–up to ten-digit numbers in this counting device. 

You can do addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and extract square and cube roots.

Learn to Multiply using a Danish Abacus
Read How to do Basic Math Operation on Abacus to find out.

Danish Abacus vs. Rekenrek: Which is Better?

Danish Abacus Rekenrek
It’s recommended for children between 4 to 14 years old. It’s recommended for children between 1 to 5 years old.
It has 10 horizontal rods. It has 2 horizontal rods.
It has 10 rows. It has 2 rows.
It has 100 beads. It has 20 beads.
Mostly features multi-colored beads. Mostly features only two colored beads.
You can do addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, extract square and cube roots, and learn place values. You can only do basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, division.

To begin with, both the counting frames are wonders for young children. They like to learn numbers on them and also keep these as toys.

If you’re asking for your kid, they will both.

But, if you’re asking as a parent, I have a different answer.

The answer to what’s best for your child depends on your kids’ age. If your little one is about 2 or 3, I think it’s best to buy a Rekenrek. It has only 20 beads in 2 rows; it will be easy to handle and learn the basic counting faster.

If you are thinking about buying it for your 6-years-old or preteen, I recommend buying the Danish abacus.

It has got 10 rows and 100 beads. They can work with bigger numbers and extract cube roots. If you enroll them in an abacus course, they can also learn mental math.

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What is the difference between an abacus and a counting frame?

A counting frame is a counting device with a rectangular structure, strings, rods, and beads to count. The only difference between an abacus and a counting frame is that an abacus is a type of counting frame.

What is the right age to use Rekenrek?

The right age to use rekenrek is 1 to 3 years. The child should be old enough to learn counting and young enough to play with as a toy.

What is a Danish abacus?

The abacus with 100 beads divided into 10 horizontal rows is known as the Danish abacus. In some abaci, the beads in each row are in different colors, and in some abaci, 5 beads are in one color. The other 5 beads are in a different color.

How do you use a math rekenrek?

The counting method in a math rekenrek is similar to the Danish abacus. You begin by sliding all the beads towards the right and then slide the beads towards the left for solving a problem. Then count from left to right.


In the battle of rekenrek vs. abacus, I think the answer depends on the learner. The rekenrek is better for young learners who have yet to learn numbers and understand how counting works.

The Danish abacus is for grown children. They can learn place values and do the basic math operations.

Overall, I think both the counting devices are quite similar in physical appearance and method of learning. I recommend learning the Danish abacus. Your child can use it even when they graduate from elementary school.

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