Take and Make: Napier’s Bones Calculator

Paola GarciaCommunity Partnerships, History Connections, Library, Making Math, Math at Home, Mathematical Artifacts, Take and Make, Teacher Support & Training1 Comment

Napier’s Bones are a manually operated calculator created by John Napier in 1612. This calculator is based on Lattice Multiplication and helps math learners with multiplying large numbers by a single digit number. 

Math learners! Start identifying multiplication patterns by making your own set of Napier’s Bones!


  • Napier’s Bones Paper Template: https://tinyurl.com/rh5xdajt
  • Writing utensil (pencil or pen)
  • Popsicle sticks (optional)
  • Glue or Tape (optional)

  1. Print out the Napier’s Bone Template on cardstock or regular paper: https://tinyurl.com/rh5xdajt  -be sure to print at 100%
  2. Write your multiplication table on the bones. Write the tens in the digit above the diagonal and the ones digit below the diagonal, as shown.
  3. Cut out your bones and glue them onto your popsicle sticks.
  4. Use our information sheet (tinyurl.com/napierinfo) to learn how to use your bones and to run this activity with other math learners! (Information Sheet is available in both English and Spanish.)

Have access to a makerspace? Use this SVG file to create your own set of wooden Napier’s Bones: https://tinyurl.com/napiersvg  

AI, SVG and Corel files are posted here.

To learn more and see other versions of Napier’s Bones Calculator check out the following sites:

One Comment on “Take and Make: Napier’s Bones Calculator”

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