Cuisenaire Fractions

Math Lesson Plan
Students will be introduced to fractions by comparing ratios between different Cuisenaire rods.

Lesson Plan graphic

Cuisenaire rods; worksheet included-click here

  1. Let students experiment with the Cuisenaire rods for a few minutes.
  2. Ask students to predict how many orange rods it will take to make a line across a table or bulletin board.
  3. Let students predict and then measure.
  4. Next ask students to try to find something in the room that is a certain number of orange rods in length, i.e. ten orange rods long.
  5. After something has been found, have students work in pairs to decide how many yellow rods it would take without measuring it.
  6. Have them write down their answer and explain how they got it.
  7. Discuss the responses. Students should realize that a yellow rod is half the length of the orange rod. Measure to verify the outcomes that students get.
  8. Discuss the relationship between the two different rods with the class. Introduce the words twice, half, whole, and fraction. Talk about the yellow rod being a fraction of the orange one, being part of the whole, and being half of the whole. Introduce the symbol ½.
  9. Have your kids experiment with the Cuisenaire rods, looking for relationships among them.
  10. Let students express their discoveries to the class. Have them do so using fractions and the appropriate numerical representations (1/2, 1/4, 1/3, etc.).
  11. Have students work in pairs on the worksheet provided which will give students experience in beginning fractions.

Review the worksheet when students are finished. Let students explain their answers. Discuss the reasoning for the answers. Have them reflect on this new concept of fractions. Do they like it? Is it hard/easy? When are fractions used in the real world?

Did students grasp the concept of the ratios between the Cuisenaire rods? Were they able to figure out the length of something based on the yellow rod without having to actually measure it? Notice which students understood easily and those that had difficulties. Were students able to grasp the concept of a whole when you introduced fractions? Were they able to successfully complete the worksheet? Notice which students seemed to enjoy the activity, who got bored, and who wasn't interested or was confused.