How to Do Math With Your Fingers

By Education Editor; Updated April 24, 2017
Math student

How to Do Math With Your Fingers. Korean children learn basic math by using their fingers. The technique, called chisenbop, has won races against calculators. It can be taught to children from any country who are just learning numbers. Follow the steps below to find out about teaching this method.

Hold your hands in front of you, palms down, an inch or two over a table.

Begin counting on the right hand, which represents units. Place the index finger on the table to represent 1; the index and middle finger both on the table represent 2. Continue in this manner until you get to 5, which is thumb down and all other fingers up.

Leave the thumb on the table and add the index finger for 6. Continue in this manner through the number 9.

Denote the number 10 by putting the index finger of your left hand on the table and raising the fingers and thumb on the right hand. Begin counting again by putting down your right index finger to represent the number 21. Continue in this manner until you get to the number 99.

Practice adding and subtracting the same number over and over from 0 to 99 and back down to 0. Eventually, you will be able to add and subtract very quickly without counting up or down using your fingers.

Multiply by adding the same number the required number of times. Because you can add and subtract quickly, you only have to keep track of the number of times you've added the same number. For instance, to multiply 8 by 6, you simply start with 0 and add 8 six times to get 48.

Divide by subtracting the appropriate number until you end up with a number less than the one you've been subtracting. This number is the remainder, and the number of times you subtracted is the quotient. For instance, to divide 50 by 8, subtracting the number 8 six times leaves you with 2. The answer is 6.2.

Tip

To do multiples of 9, hold both hands in front of you. Beginning with the right pinky finger, assign each finger and thumb a number from 1 to 10. To get the answer for 9 times 4, fold down finger number 4 (the left index). The number of fingers to the left of this finger is the first number of the answer and the number of fingers to the right is the second number. The answer is 36.