CUISENAIRE RODS AND MATH
Linda Easter Dewitt Clinton Elementary School
6110 N. Fairfield
Chicago, IL 60615
1) To familiarize students with the history, development and philosophy of the
2) To have students be able to find the least common multiple of several given
numbers using cuisenaire rods.
3) To reinforce previously taught math skills by using cuisenaire rod games,
puzzles and or activities.
1) Booklet with identifying information for each rod - color name, size and
centimeter graph paper - for each person.
2) One set of cuisenaire rods for every two people.
3) Blank paper for making tables, keeping scores etc. - for each person.
4) A blank game board made from cardboard to help stabilize paper game boards
while playing the various games - for each person.
5) Booklet of games - includes duplicated game boards and directions - for each
6) Overhead projector masters of each game in game booklet.
7) Overhead projector master of definitions used in lessons.
8) One set of overhead projector cuisenaire rods.
1) What? Explain to students that they are going to learn a new way to use
the rods, but before doing so they will review some rod skills taught previously
and use the rods to discover some things which will help them with the new skill
to be taught.
2) Definitions: Trains - the result of putting rods together end to end
(resembles how trains are hooked up). Other words defined during lesson are: least
common multiple (L.C.M.), and multiple.
3) Concepts to be reviewed: a) Color names for each rod length. b) Letter
symbols for each rod length. c) Showing basic addition, subtraction,
multiplication and division using the rods. d) Writing simple equations with
variables - using rods. e) Showing and naming fractional parts with the rods.
4) Patterns - Discovery game/activity The challenge - Students must
find/discover all the trains equal in length to a particular color rod. These
trains are the patterns for a particular color rod. The students must also write
the equations for each pattern. There are 4 patterns for the green rod (g=g,
w+r=g, r+w=g, and 3w=g) but the patterns become increasingly more difficult when
you use longer rods. There are 512 patterns for the orange rod. Note: for an
advanced student you may challenge them to predict how many patterns each rod will
have and come up with a formula to get the results.
5) Finding the Least Common Multiple (L.C.M.) Students will use skills taught
in prior lessons and the review session to begin learning about the L.C.M.. At the
end of the lesson the student will be able to find the L.C.M. of 4 given numbers.
Students will be told to make a purple train from a given number of rods and match
it with the equivalent number of dark green rods. They will then find out what
the length of these two trains is in white rods. The students will be asked to
record their results on a table and look for patterns. The students should notice
that "the first time these two trains meet they are the same length as 12 rods.
They should also notice that they meet again when they are the same length as 24,
36, 48,......whites. These are the common multiples of the two rods. Since the
train of length 12 is the smallest common multiple it is called the least common
multiple". Note: At the end of the lesson students will be allowed to play
cuisenaire games from the game booklets given to them. The degree of difficulty
of each game varies from simple to very complex. Many math and thinking skills
are used and reinforced while playing these games.
6) Additional strategies, suggestions etc. from critique - none given.
Activities used for these lessons are from the Student Activity Cards kit
for cuisenaire rods by Patricia Davidson, Arlene Fair and Grace Galton.
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