# How do you use Cuisenaire rods?

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How exactly do Cuisenaire rods work? I've seen them, but they don't really have much of an explanation just on a purchase page.  :-)  I've contemplated getting the Montessori number rods and I'm wondering what things they might have in common, and why C-rods might be a good substitute- or not.

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Go to EducationUnboxed for some great ideas. We use them with Miquon but also with other math programs. They give a visual representation of so many concepts in math, plus they are fun to use. Also, if your child is young there's a pre-Miquon activity book for rods that is great (and relevant even if not using Miquon)

http://www.nurturedbylove.ca/resources/cuisenairebook.pdf

Edited by Targhee
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Agree with looking at Education Unboxed. A couple of things:

Give your child plenty of time to get used to the rods at first

Let your child use the rods to work through problems, even if it would be faster if you demonstrated

Get at least one small group set. Smaller sets do not have enough rods.

There is a lot of discussion on wood vs plastic rods. Education Unboxed has a good comparison.

Avoid the interlocking rods and rods that have indentations to show how many units in a rod.

I have never used any Montessori materials, so I am going just by looks here. The Cuisenaire rods have each unit as 1 cm x 1 cm x 1 cm. That makes then very versatile -- useful for multiplication, area problems, even quadratic equations. I am not sure the Montessori number rods work that way. Montessori materials are quite expensive, too.

We used Cuisenaire rods with Miquon and Singapore. They are also used in a number of other homeschool friendly programs.

Btw, as you get into larger numbers, you will probably want unit vibes, rods, flats. Not to replace the Cuisenaires, but in addition to.

This sounds trivial, but dd loved her rods, felt that they were her companion in math journey. (They are also fun to play with, build things.) Unit cubes, by contrast, had no personality, lol.

Adding -- my mathy child never needed or wanted manipulatives, just something to be aware of, if your kids are very mathy.

Edited by Alessandra
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Rainbow Resource sells a product called Mathematics Made Meaningful. It comes with 50 task cards and a boatload of C-rods. You just start with the first task (dump all the rods on the table. Sort into piles according to color. Mess up the piles. Sort according to size. Hey! It's the same piles!). Eventually you'll have this revelation that C-rods are the most amazing thing on this planet. :-)

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We never worked out how to use them for math. My kids used them to make animal pens for plastic animals.

We did, however, use MUS blocks

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I read Gattegno's first math book and watched the videos available on youtube where he shows how to use them with a first grade class.  From there, we developed our own uses for them to go along with MEP.

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The Montessori rods I've seen have a significant flaw, in my opinion: each number isn't associated with a unique color.

The advantage of the c-rods is that even a very young child can quickly learn-- through play-- that a red rod and a yellow rod are equivalent in length to a black rod. A kid doesn't have to count. Once she discovers the number equivalent of each rod (and this is also something that comes about through play), a whole world of early arithmetic is mastered through her own ability to visualize and recall the rods.

I highly recommend the rods, and also that you sit and play around with them for awhile as well. They're fun!

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The Montessori rods I've seen have a significant flaw, in my opinion: each number isn't associated with a unique color.

The red/blue ones aren't, but Montessori uses bead strands that each have a significant color.  The drawback with the bead strands is the ends - when you create a chain that spacing can be something to get used to, whereas you can fit c-rods neatly against each other and see immediately the result of the bigger number.  And, I don't know it's so much as a drawback as just a difference in perception on how you see how numbers are built.

Now, lets get everyone together and decide on ONE color set for numbers so that all math materials are interchangeable!

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Look on youtube. There are a number of videos showing everything from fractions to algebra.

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A bit of a side trail, but is it worth getting Cusinaire rods if you already have MUS blocks? We've used MUS blocks a lot even though we don't use MUS and I've always figured they play the same role as the rods. But then I see these threads and wonder if it would be with getting the rods and task cards as well...

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A bit of a side trail, but is it worth getting Cusinaire rods if you already have MUS blocks? We've used MUS blocks a lot even though we don't use MUS and I've always figured they play the same role as the rods. But then I see these threads and wonder if it would be with getting the rods and task cards as well...

We ditched our MUS blocks and replaced them with C-rods.  I like the C-rods much better:  1) they are physically smaller and take up much less space on the table 2) our wooden C-rods are much higher quality than the MUS bricks (which felt cheap to me) 3) the lack of scoring makes the c-rods more versatile.  The kids have no problems following MUS with c-rods.  I thought the different colours might be an issue, but no, they've adapted very easily.

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We ditched our MUS blocks and replaced them with C-rods. I like the C-rods much better: 1) they are physically smaller and take up much less space on the table 2) our wooden C-rods are much higher quality than the MUS bricks (which felt cheap to me) 3) the lack of scoring makes the c-rods more versatile. The kids have no problems following MUS with c-rods. I thought the different colours might be an issue, but no, they've adapted very easily.

Hmmm. Very tempting. About 3 - what makes them more versatile? What can you do without the scoring that you can't do with?

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Hobbes, we have both MUS and c-rods.  I found that for one child, MUS blocks were preferred, but for the other, c-rods (or nothing, he's an odd duck).  We still keep both in the house.

MUS:
the flats and specific colors of units/tens/hundreds make it easy to illustrate multiplication concepts and keep numbers straight in columns (I use colored graph paper to introduce, as well as a modified Montessori checkerboard and stacking number cards that are in the three colors)

c-rods:

great for addition, subtraction, basic fractions (though I prefer MUS for multiplication/division of fractions), and introduction to multiplication.  You need to supplement with base-ten if you continue to use them for larger multiplication problems.

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Hobbes, we have both MUS and c-rods. I found that for one child, MUS blocks were preferred, but for the other, c-rods (or nothing, he's an odd duck). We still keep both in the house.

MUS:

the flats and specific colors of units/tens/hundreds make it easy to illustrate multiplication concepts and keep numbers straight in columns (I use colored graph paper to introduce, as well as a modified Montessori checkerboard and stacking number cards that are in the three colors)

c-rods:

great for addition, subtraction, basic fractions (though I prefer MUS for multiplication/division of fractions), and introduction to multiplication. You need to supplement with base-ten if you continue to use them for larger multiplication problems.

This is helpful, thanks for the breakdown. And for the permission to own both. â˜ºï¸

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