Mr. Jones' Room

1st-4th Math Coach Constantly Searching for New Ideas

Cuisenaire Rods

The 2nd Graders have been working on measurement lately in their rooms so I figured I would do a little with measurement. But, measuring just for the sake of measuring can be tedious (read: boring). So, I decided to experiment a little bit and this is what I came up with.

This activity includes measuring with centimeters, making tens with multiple numbers, and a discussion about geometry.


First, the kids started off by measuring each kind of cuisenaire rod. We then made a key so that we could remember how long each color was.

Even though they’re in 2nd grade, making tens has been an issue lately so i figured we could work on it through this activity. This could also be expanded to making larger numbers (more on that below). We came up with some combinations that could make 10.

Tried to color code as much as possible...unfortunately I didn't have all the colors in my expo marker collection

Tried to color code as much as possible…unfortunately I didn’t have all the colors in my expo marker collection

The simple ones on top led to one of them asking “can we use more than 2 numbers” so I let them have at it and they came up with great possibilities. Given more time I’m sure we could have added even more to the list.

We then moved onto a discussion about squares and how all sides are the same. I gave them a piece of construction paper that was precut to 10 cm x 10 cm. They then had to cover the whole piece of construction paper with the rods using some of the combinations we talked about. Here are some examples:

photo 4

photo 5


There were a bunch more, but they all looked very similar to these. Some of the students actually put the rods in different directions which wasn’t entirely following directions, but they were exploring and found that since the rods were 1 inch wide, it didn’t take away their ability to make the squares complete.

This activity could be adapted to making bigger rectangles which would mean they were making 20 or 25 all the way up to a 50 x 50 square if the rods are available.

It was a good way to hit a few concepts and keep the kids engaged for our time together yesterday and I will definitely be using the rods in this way again soon.

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This entry was posted on May 20, 2014 by in Everyday and tagged , , , , .
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