## Thursday, September 8, 2011

### White...Red...Light Green...Purple...Cuisenaire Rods!

I pulled out the cuisenaire rods yesterday.  The set had been sitting on a shelf for almost a year.  If you don't know what they are the best I can say right now is that, essentially, they are unit blocks of specific colors designed to (at least at first) help kids develop number sense as well as strengthen conceptual understanding of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

The girl immediately remembered the long ago time when we played a 'trick' of putting the first four (white, red, light green, purple) behind our backs.  One of us would tell the other which color to bring forward, and every time we'd be right!   I can tell I'm going to do a little more research on how to use these things, but I know from what I've seen so far is that the first thing you do is focus on the attributes of each color in relationship to each other before assigning a unit number.  Here's how things developed today:

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 Girl: "I'm going to put them biggest to smallest..."  Mama: "Say it with me!  Orange, blue, brown, black...  Okay now, with our eyes closed!  Orange, blue, brown...Yay we did it!  Now smallest to biggest, white, red, light green, purple..."
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 Mama: "Hey look!  A blue with a white makes an orange.  Oh, and a red with a black makes an orange, too!"  Girl: "Let me do it."

 Girl: "It's divided here."  Mama: "Oh, I see it, on the diagonal.  Let's put a block down to show where it is."

 Girl: "I want to pull them apart."  Mama: "Look, they're in the same order!"

 Girl: "Now I want to make a design."

 What she figured out is that to make this design work you had to skip colors: orange + 2, blue, (skip brown), black, (skip green), yellow, etc.

So many more things to do with these -- I can't wait!!

#### 1 comment:

1. We use our Cuisenaire rods every single day with math. Whenever I teach a new computation concept, we do it with fingers (if we can!), counters on a hundred grid, countable units, and Cuisenaire rods, before I show them the pencil and paper "trick" for computing it more quickly. Lately, I've been adding in a base ten set to the mix, with ten bars, hundred flats, and a thousand cube, and I'm on the lookout for a few more thousand cubes to add in.