Number Rods

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Number Rods
Math - Numbers 0-10
Number Rods 2.JPG
Level Primary
Age 3 - 4
Prerequisites Long Rods
Materials set of Number Rods

Also called the Red and Blue Rods.
This activity teaches the child the concept of quantities 1 - 10 and their names.


First Presentation

  1. Starting with the shortest rod, carry the rods one at a time to a mat. Lay them all out parallel to each other but in random order as shown.
    Number Rods 1.JPG
  2. Put them in order the same way as was done with the Long Rods.
    Number Rods 2.JPG
  3. Isolate the 1 rod and place a hand on it saying: "One."
    Number Rods 3.JPG
  4. Isolate the 2 rod and count each section: "One, two." Then name the rod: "Two."
    Number Rods 4.JPG
  5. Do the same with the 3 rod. Then do a three period lesson with the first three rods.

Subsequent Presentations

  1. In later lessons, introduce the other rods in the same way.

Points of Interest

Instruct the child to build the stair (as they did with the red rods), keeping the red end of each rod to the left side of the mat (POI).

Control of Error

  • visual - pattern of colored sections
  • internal – sense of length acquired through work with red rods
  • internal – sense of sequence of numbers acquired through auditory memory.

Variations and Extensions

  • Once all are lined up onto rug, slide smallest rod up ‘stair’, demonstrating its size is equal to the difference between each rod next to the other.


This material consists of ten wooden rods, painted alternating red and blue. The shortest rod is 10cm in length, they each increase in length by 10cm up to the longest which is 100cm long. The ends of the rods are 2.5cm square.

Make Your Own

The Number Rods can be made by cutting 1" x 1" boards to the correct length, taping them off, and then painting them.
Num Rods AHC 1.jpg Num Rods AHC 2.jpg Num Rods AHC 3.jpg
(A more detailed description of how this was done can be found at A Handmade Childhood.)

Where to Buy

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E & O (Ontario, CANADA) $99.00
Hello Wood $205.00 (red and blue)
Hello Wood $189.00 (red and unpainted wood)
Leader Joy USA $77.95 (premium)
Kid Advance $59.99
Montessori Concepts $78.00
Montessori Outlet $89.95
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Thinkamajigs $64.95

Adena $18.66
Affordable Montessori $39.00
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Alison's $50.00 (premium)
Cabdev $40.00
Creative Learning $22.95
Kid Advance $24.99
Montessori Land $37.00
Thinkamajigs $36.95

Small Number Rods for Table-top
Best Montessori Toys $23.40

Further Reading