Multiplication and Square Numbers with Cuisenaire Rods

We used Cuisenaire Rods to create equivalent multiplication equations, discover square numbers and determine one times a number equals itself.

My daughter enjoys working with Cuisenaire Rods because she likes a challenge and discovering multiplication and other math principles on her own. I often begin a lesson with a simple example such as using two red rods to create a square. Then I ask my daughter if she could build any more squares. She finds the method very motivating.

Here are some ways we recently used Cuisenaire Rods for multiplication.

The above picture shows a quantity of four red 2 cm rods and a quantity of two purple 4 cm rods. They represent the multiplication problems 4 x 2 = 8 and 2 x 4 = 8.  Playing with Cuisenaire Rods, the differences and similarities in the two equations became visually obvious.

After presenting the simple example above, I asked my daughter if she could create any more equivalent rectangles.

2 x 6 = 6 x 2 = 12

5 x 10 = 10 x 5 = 50

Writing down the equations was an important part of discovery.

Next, instead of creating rectangles, we created squares.

These squares represent square numbers.
1 x 1 = 1
2 x 2 = 4
3 x 3 = 9
4 x 4 = 16

After discovering square numbers, the equations were rewritten with square symbols.
12 = 1
22 = 4
32 = 9
42 = 16

Finally we multiplied a number times itself and wrote down the equations.

The method is simple, but the visual component combined with self discovery makes it a great activity for children who need to learn by figuring it out.

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