We used Cusienaire Rods as a light introduction to algebra.
When kids begin algebra, often times representing numbers with letters is too abstract a concept to grasp. I did this activity with my 5th grade son and my 1st grade daughter at the same time. Although my son went on to slightly more difficult problems, my daughter was able to comprehend the basic idea of representing a number with a letter.
Before beginning this activity, at a minimum, kids should understand addition families with Cuisenaire Rods.
They had to select the missing rod which when placed next to the yellow rod, would equal the length of the brown rod. The 3 cm green rod was correct. The next step was to write: x = 3
After a few similar examples, the kids were able to construct and write out their own problems.
Next, we tried a slightly more difficult problem.
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