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Number Rods

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Ten wooden rods in graded lengths, ten centimeters (one decimeter) to one meter, like the red rods but colored red and blue in alternate decimeters, 2.5 centimeters square in cross section.
Large rug. 


  1. Invite the child to the lesson. 
  2. Show the child the number rods. 
  3. Ask the child to roll out a large rug. 
  4. Remind the child of how to hold rods.  
  5. Ask the child to bring the rods to the rug one at a time. 
  6. “The red part comes first when we lay them out and order them.” 
  7. Ask the child to place the rods in order from longest to shortest, starting with the longest one in the top left corner of the rug. 
  8. Once all the rods are on the rug from longest to shortest, pull the first three rods towards the bottom of the rug close to you, one at a time. 
  9. Point at rod one and say “This is one.”  
  10. Place your fingers on the only segment and repeat “one.” 
  11. Ask the child to say the number and repeat what you did. 
  12. Point at rod two and say “This is two.” 
  13. Place your fingers on the red segment and say “one” then place your fingers on the blue segment and say “two.” 
  14. Ask the child to say the number and repeat what you did. 
  15. Point at rod three and say “This is three.” 
  16. Place your fingers on the red segment “one” then place your fingers on the blue segment “two” then place your fingers on the last red segment “three.” 
  17. Ask the child to say the number and repeat what you did. 
  18. Continue by giving a three-period-lesson and conclude by testing the child’s knowledge by asking him to give you one, then two, then three.  
  19. Clean up for the day by returning the number rods to the shelf in the same way you return the red rods. 


Exercise 1. As presented.

 Over many days, introduce all 10 rods. Do as many per day as the child wants. 

Exercise 2. Find a Rod.

Randomize the rods on the rug and ask the child to find rods. For example, “find 5.” Then ask the child to count the segments to verify. You can be sitting near the rug or standing away from the rug to make the exercise last longer and to make it more challenging, as the child must remember what rod you asked him to find. 

Exercise 3. Identify a Rod.

Point at a random rod and ask the child to identify it. “What is this?” The child should by now be quite good at identifying what number a rod is by looking at it because he has memorized and absorbed this information through practice. 

Exercise 4. Distance Game. 

At a distance, ask the child to come to you and bring you a rod. For example, “bring a 6.” The child walks to the rug, carrying the number with him through his memory, and brings the rod back to you. Ask him to count the segments of the rod to verify. Ask the child “bring me one more than this” or “bring me two more than this” etc. 

Control of Error

Colored segments.


To learn the names of quantities from 1 – 10. 
To understand that each quantity is a separate object in itself. 
The child will naturally learn the sequence of numbers 1 – 10.  




Identical in size to the red rods. 
The child must have mastered red rods first.
This work is parallel to sandpaper letters.
Precision with this material is crucial.
When touching the segment, and saying the name, dramatically raise your hand before touching the next segment.
The materials used to be named the “Sequin rods.” 

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