Cuisenaire rods are an aid in teaching arithmetic. They were invented
by Georges Cuisenaire, who was a primary school teacher in Thuin,
Belgium^{1}. He published a book called "Les Nombres en Couleurs"
(Numbers in Color) in 1952 in which the rods were
introduced^{2}.

The Cuisenaire rods themselves are wooden sticks that are 1 cm wide and
between 1 and 10 cm long. They differ not only in length, but also in
color. They have the following colors ^{3}.:

- White: 1 cm
- Red: 2 cm
- Green: 3 cm
- Purple: 4 cm
- Yellow: 5 cm
- Dark green: 6 cm
- Black: 7 cm
- Brown: 8 cm
- Blue: 9 cm
- Orange: 10 cm

Cuisenaire rods hence make it very easy to see which

number belongs to
which

rod, as they differ in both

length and

color: while the
difference in length between a 8 cm rod and a 9 cm rod might be too small to
immediately see if they are not directly compared, the difference between
Brown and Blue is. In this respect, they are superior to using blocks of one
color, which is how I learned arithmetic.

Cuisenaire rods can obviously be used to teach addition, subtraction
multiplication and division. For instance, take a purple stick, take a
yellow stick, make a "train" of them, and note that is exactly as long as
the blue stick, which has value 9. The only thing left to remember now is
that blue equals 9. However, it gets better. fractions have been
the bane of elementary school children and adults alike:
how, exactly, do we add up 2/5 and 3/4? With Cuisenaire rods, this can
easily be done. A different rod is used for the numerator and the
denominator. For instance, in representing one half, the red rod can be
used for the denominator, and each white rod now represents one half, with
two whites on top of one red representing 1. Next, one can add two of these
two-white, one-red combinations and see that they are equal to one purple
rod. In other words, one is equal to two halves and four quarters, and one
half is equal to two quarters. This principle can be used to make any kind
of fractions, and bring them under a common denominator to add them.

Cuisenaire rods have proven to be even more versatile than that. They
are also used in the Silent Way ^{4}, a way of teaching a language
that involves little teacher intervention. This way of teaching a
language was invented by Caleb Gattegno, who met Cuisenaire ^{5}.
The Silent Way involves using the same color to represent the same
sound. The rods are used as props ^{6}, and form the basis
of a common vocabulary

In summary, Cuisenaire rods are colored rods that are used to give a
concrete representation of abstract concepts such as numbers. As such,
they are used in teaching arithmetic. Furthermore, they can also be used
in teaching language.

#### Sources

- http://www.cuisenaire.co.uk/
- http://pagesperso-orange.fr/une.education.pour.demain/biographies/cuisen
.htm
- http://pagesperso-orange.fr/une.education.pour.demain/materiels_pedago/s
w/swengcharts/rods2.htm
- http://pagesperso-orange.fr/une.education.pour.demain/materiels_pedago/s
w/swprese.htm
- http://www.gattegno-edusol.com/?q=node/24
- http://www.onestopenglish.com/section.asp?docid=146498