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Thread: Cuisenaire Rods

  1. #1

    Default Cuisenaire Rods

    Does anyone have any experience with this particular math curriculum? Advantages, drawbacks, positives, negatives, etc? We're going to be, using student-led learning techniques for the most part next year but I'd like to use a structured math curriculum. Zack struggles a bit with mathematical concepts, although has no problem with real-life application, and it's my weakest subject so I want to make sure we're not overlooking anything. His first grade class currently uses Saxon Math and he HATES it. I don't like it either, but he is definitely a tactile/kinesthetic learner so I want a curriculum with manipulatives. I'd love some feedback!

  2. T4L In Forum May18
  3. #2


    The rods are great for teaching number bonds.

    Are you looking into Miquon math? They use the rods. There are three levels and six books that cover math 1-3. It is fairly interesting in that there are worksheets but they are more like "experiments" than real worksheets. So it works well with relaxed/unschooling but children who are gifted/love math like them too because they make discoveries about math using the rods.

    It may be a fun choice.

    For my hands-on learner we use Singapore Math/ Rod and Staff combo (lots of review) but I add in manipulatives. My favorites are:

    number sidewalk (0-10)--addition/subtraction within 10
    Cuisinaire Rods--number bonds within 10 (you can use them for a lot of other things but I haven't figured out how to do fractions and bar diagrams with them yet)
    gnomes & gems & containers--4 operations, even/odd, place value
    place value rainbow or bard (R&S idea)--place value, addition/subtraction with regrouping
    AL Abacus--subtraction, addition/subtraction with regrouping
    100s chart--counting, skip counting, number order, multiplication/division activities
    fraction circles--any work with fractions
    balance scale--great to just weigh/compare stuff before they learn measurment terms
    containers and cups--give him various sized containers and access to water to learn all about volume

    Rightstart Math is also a great choice for a child who likes hands-on. It is based on Montessori and Japanese math. If you go to my blog, I have links to sites where you can find out how to make your own Montessori manipulatives just click on the Montesorri tab. There are quite a few yahoogroups with all sorts of stuff to print off and make.

    Enjoy math. It's a lot of fun. And don't forget your library may have Stuart J. Murphy's mathstart books these are really fun and all about math.

    2nd grade: Oak Meadow, Singapore Math, Lapbooks

    4th grade: Oak Meadow, Singapore Math, Spell to Write and Read, Lively Latin, Lapbooks

  4. #3


    Christy, thank you so, so much for your fantastic response to my question! I apologize for not replying sooner. Zack's class had a field trip to the skating rink and I was a chaperone and once I got skates on my feet, I forgot I was 42 and ultimately did a faceplant in the middle of the rink. So now that I can sit upright at a computer again (groan) I'm going to spend some time researching all the wonderful resources you've mentioned. You know your math curriculum inside and out; thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with me!! I'm heading to the library today to look for the MathSmart books.

  5. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by ginnyjf View Post
    I forgot I was 42 and ultimately did a faceplant in the middle of the rink.
    Oh Ginny, are you OK?

  6. #5


    Reviving this thread because I wanted to say that we seem to like cuisenaire rods in our homeschool math so far. I have a preschooler and first grader (so to speak) and picked up a set of rods and some old how-to books at a friend's garage sale. Both kids were interested in knowing what they were and how they worked. I copied and printed some worksheets that have them filling in shapes with different sized bars to see how a space for one long bar might also be filled in the smaller ones. Both kids liked the activity. So far, so good!

  7. #6


    Just wanted to add: rods and such are great, but they are still symbolic (representative, abstractions). I like to start with REAL objects, like the kids' toys and let them come up with a story. Something they REALLY, REALLY like! So they need to count how many animals they have. Then some friends come over. Or some leave. Then sharing or multiplying, like feeding carrots to their stuffed animals. How many do they need? Each wants two. You have 12 carrots. How many more do they need? Two more of their bunny friends come over. How many more do they need? All sitting on the floor, relaxed. Just playing and doing this for 5 minutes or so at the start of math time. Counting the real objects. You can do this all the way through fractions (make carrots out of legos or such that they can divide).

    If you use the SAME basic "game" they will eventually see that ALL word problems can be converted into their personal game problem (stuffed animals and carrots in this example). Then when they get stuck on a tough problem, teach them to think of the problem in terms of animals/carrots and they will probably very quickly see how to solve it. THat is EXACTLY the whole point of the power of abstraction in math!!! Give them that touchstone and that should help them be able to make their own.

    THEN the rods (as representatives of carrots or whatever, or at least tying back to them in their memory) will help them learn MATH besides just the mechanics or pushing the abstract rules around (which any calculator can do). Don't confuse learning arithmetic with learning MATH. Math is the abstract language of the brain. We kill it by dissecting it away from the creative and beauty it is and teaching it as random tedious abstract gunk.

    Gee, aren't I all poetic this morning.

  8. #7


    Cuisenaire rods didn't work at all for my son because he's color blind. We made counting sticks with dry beans that we glued onto popsicle sticks. Loose beans were ones, sticks were tens.

    Mom to one, 18 year old son.

  9. #8


    I think whatever objects a kid enjoys using are the right ones.

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