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Cuisenaire rod question


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My son is almost 4 and has a very intuitive number sense. We have been free playing with Cuisenaire rods for about 6 months and I have the first two Miquon books and plan to start slowly introducing them soon.


However, yesterday while playing with the rods an issue came up that I don't know how to handle or if it needs to be handled at all.


Earlier in the day DS and I had been talking about his upcoming birthday and that he was three and that when he added another year he would be four. This led to a discussion about other ways to make four. We talked about 2+2, 4+0, 1+1+1+1. He seemed to understand just fine and he offered that we could get four by starting with 5 and taking one away. Great.


When we had the rods out later he gathered four white rods and pointed while he verbalized 1+1+1+1 = 4. I told him that was correct and asked if he could line them up and see which colored rod was the same length as the 4 whites (we had played around before with lining up various shorter rods and seeing if we could match up a longer rod). After a bit of trial and error he found the purple 4 rod and matched it up, but then he pointed again and said 1+1+1+1 = 1 finishing by pointing to the 1 purple rod. I understood the logic, and decided to just correctly label his equation, so I pointed at them and said that yes 1 little + 1 little + 1 little + 1 little = 1 bigger rod. I said we could also call them by their colors and say 1 white + 1 white + 1 white + 1 white = 1 purple. I then mentioned how he had been comparing the weights of plastic animals in his balance scale a few days before and found that sometimes it took many little animals to equal the weight of 1 big animal. I said this was the same and that 4 white rods equalled the same as 1 purple.


I'm not sure if any of this made any sense to him, he seemed pretty confused, but I just let the issue drop. Should I even be mentioning the idea that the different rods are associated with different numbers? When did your kids start to grasp the idea of 1 rod representing more than 1 unit?




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I think you handled it fine. At this young, some concepts may be just developing. I'd be less inclined to assign number names at this point. I'd just ask which rod is the same as 4 whites. You could play the same game asking which rod is 4 reds. I'd caution you to steer away from thinking of white as strictly 1. They could be 1/4 and then the purple would be 1. The important thing here would be to realize that 4 whites together would make a bigger rod. It that sense, it seems so simple...which is why c rods rock!

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