This one doesn't take much AT ALL!
The glue doesn't tend to be terribly strong on abacus, so you can wiggle out one leg removing it from the metal rods and the wood rod across the top.
Now. Remove the 4th and the 8th metal rods (counting from the top).
Now, rearrange the colors so you have (from the top): green, blue, red, (space), green, blue, red, (space), green. Re-attach the side leg.
Ok, you're going to be short on colors! So you get out some paint (washable child safe paint is NOT ideal here), and you paint 10 of those natural colored beads green. They can hang on the metal rod, with space in between, to dry. Polyurethane if you want (I never did on ours and it's fine, but I think I would have preferred the texture of the polyurethaned ones - plain paint feels different from the rest of the beads).
You'll also want to paint the sides with white gray and black, but I've not done that on this one; I tend to use colored paper taped on for presentations and remove it for other times (another story).
|You can see our painted ones on the bottom;|
polyurethane would have been nice.
Leftover yellow and natural color beads? Give them to your younger children for stringing practice; or any of your children for jewelry or other just fun crafty project of their liking.
It's not a Montessori abacus - it's a large bead frame!
Want a small bead frame? Just wrap up the lower 3 bars, so you have only up to the thousands showing. For homeschool purposes, the large bead frame is much more adaptable - so if you have to choose just ONE size, make or purchase the large bead frame because it will extend from primary into elementary.
EDITED TO NOTE:
In AMI albums, the small and large bead frames can be used in primary; the large bead frame is used in elementary (even if used in primary); but the small bead frame does not need to be in place in elementary, since all the same work can be done on the large bead frame and the children are older and capable ;)