Cuisenaire® Rods

by Early Math Counts

There are few manipulatives out there that are as interesting and beautiful as a wooden set of Cuisenaire® Rods.  Developed 75 years ago by Belgian teacher Georges Cuisenaire these “rods” come in beautiful colors in varying lengths.

The units are color-coded which provides additional visual cues for children. If you look carefully at the above photo, you can see that the units of 1 are white and the units of 2 are red, units 3 are green and so on.  When using them with children, you can refer to the lengths by their unit number as well as their color.

Unlike Unifix cubes, traditional Cuisenaire ® Rods do not attach to one another (although there are sets that do attach).  This provides a different set of possibilities for children as their uses may be less obvious and may require a bit more ingenuity.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the “trading game” that is played with the family bear counters. Well, a more developed “trading game” can be played with the rods since each of the rods has a specific value.  White is worth 1 and red is worth 2 and green is worth 3.  In order to get a green rod, children must trade 3 whites, or 1 white and 1 red.  Give this a try and tell us what you think.

5 Replies to “Cuisenaire® Rods”

  1. Hi, I have used Cuisenaire rods to introduce math concepts with children for years. Recently I developed a Cuisenaire Rod app that is freely available from my site if anyone is interested.

  2. Thank you for the app link! I would like to find more ways to use cuisinaire rods. The trading game is a simple idea, too!

    1. No problem Jessica I hope you find it useful. I have created a program for Cuisenaire Rods. It covers Kindergarten to Grade 2/3 It is also useful as a \’catch up program for teachers and adults. It\’s called Child\’s Play Maths and Part one is now supported by 29 tutorial videos.
      If you like I can send you a pdf copy of the program. All I ask is that if you find it a helpful resource you spread the word.


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