Cuisenaire Rods

I have been enjoying working with my child at home using Cuisenaire rods. We just continue the work she has been set by her school by exploring something she has noticed. First time we used the rods, I drew out a 10by10 grid and let her fill it up with a picture. I’ve seen a few people on Twitter use this idea and it let my child be creative and she really enjoyed doing this on a few separate occasions. Here are just a few of her pictures.



We then had to do some of her school work and she had to answer questions where there was a double number and another digit. EG: 4 + 4 + 7 or 8 + 3 + 3. I gave her the task to fill a length of 13 with a double and one other rod. She enjoyed doing this and asked questions like “why can’t you use exactly two rods without having a gap?” and “why can’t you use two 7s?” We spent time talking about these questions and ideas.

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The next day she had to answer her school questions which were adding 3 numbers where two of them added to 10. So after we looked at filling a length of 13 with rods that included two that formed a number bond to 10. This also provoked questions like “why is there always 3 left over?”

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In the next lesson she had to work on grouping dots and calculating things such as 15 ÷ 3 and circling dots. I decided to try giving her a rod of length 12 and see if she could cover the rod in only red rods or yellow rods etc. She discovered that you could do this with the 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 length rods.


Last night my child got the Cuisenaire rods out and said “can you draw some shapes for me to fill, like you did before?” I drew some shapes and she said to the first ones: “they have 4 sides but that has 6” so I drew some with more sides which she counted too. Then she started filling them. She said “its easy to fill them with the white and red blocks because they are smaller” She then counted up the squares inside the shapes and wrote it down. I didn’t ask her too. I decided to give her some shapes that had an area of 24 but were all the same and challenged her to fill these shapes with only one type of rod each time. She started trying the rod of 9 and then 8 and then 7 and announced triumphantly “2, 4, 6, 8” I said “what do you mean?” she said “I’ve seen something like this before and you can only fill with 2, 4, 6 or 8.” I started to wish I had used a length of area 12 instead but when she got to 3 she was a bit confused as it worked. She reasoned it must be because it was a small rod and those worked for everything and that the bigger the rod the bigger the gap left over.

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