Friday, September 7, 2012

DIY Red Rods


You may have heard of the red rods in Montessori method. These are wooden rods of different lengths that are to be set like stairs when put on order of length. The key is to hold the rods ONLY from the ends to get the feel of the length increasing or decreasing. The rods work on base 10, the longest being a meter and the consecutive ones decreasing by 10 centimeter, making the smallest 10 centimeter in length.
Well for now I thought of making our red rods by cutting strips from a very heavy carton box I picked up from our local grocery store. This was an excellent math activity to involve Lil Muallim # 1 in.  I made him mark lines of 2.5 cm width. Then I cut them with a sharp blade cutter.

The actual measurement for red rods is: 

  1. 2.5x2.5x10cm, 
  2. 2.5x2.5x20cm, 
  3. 2.5x2.5x30cm, 
  4. 2.5x2.5x40cm, 
  5. 2.5x2.5x50cm, 
  6. 2.5x2.5x60cm, 
  7. 2.5x2.5x70cm, 
  8. 2.5x2.5x80cm, 
  9. 2.5x2.5x90cm, 
  10. 2.5x2.5x100cm.

As I was making these with strips cut out of a carton, I only maintained the width and length not the depth.

Lil Muallim # 2 was responsible for gluing two strips together. As the strips got bigger I had to actually join a couple of strips together by sticking another stick to remaining length of the single strip. Then  placed some heavy books on top to press.

  I used Lil Muallim # 1 as my measurement calculator. As our ruler could measure only 38 cm, he calculated how much more to make 50, 60, 70 ......100 cm. in his words................

 " I am just thinking logically, as you said each strip increases by 10 cm then I am just telling you the answer by addimg ten more to my previous answser" Mashallah! He helped a lot in this project and got a thorough measurement review Alhumdolillah!

Once the strips ahem.. rods were all stuck together, the Lil Muallim # 1 painted one side and Lil Muallim # 2 painted the other with acrylic paint. 

Once they are all dry I will coat them with contact sheet for durability and securing the paint. This was a BIG family project, taking almost 2 day.

Honestly speaking, the last 100 cm one is left to be made, Lil Muallimah cannot hold the 90 cm and 100 cm ones by the ends, too long for her. 

These are only 9 rods, I am still working on the 10th one
I was so excited to share this with you all that I couldn't wait for the last rod and try them out. 

Using Red Rods
 The method to work with red rods is to place a mat on the floor. This defines the space to work in for the child. Then ask the child to pick up the rods from the shortest to longest and place them on the mat not in order.

 Then ask the child to build a stair from longest to shortest always remembering (reminding) to hold the rods from the end only. This gives the child a sense of length as the distance between their hands increases and decreases. This further heps them correct themselves through their sensorial experience. It gets tougher to hold the rods from the ends as they get bigger, so the adult can help. Got to love this! 

I personally found this to be a learning activity for all my Lil Muallims as:

 Lil maullim # 1 got to practice measuring exact width and lengths and working in base tens. Hands on conversion practice from metres to centimters, and decimeters and  milimeters . (will make anoither post on this)

Lil Muallim # 2 got to visualize and feel a meter, and learn how to measure and stick thin strips aligning them together.

Lil Muallimah got to learn differences in length in a VERY hands on experience Mashallah

As we are getting to do more and more Montessori style activities Lil Muallim # 1 reflected: " I always thought Montessori was only for babies" hehe well if it was ... Lil Muallim # 1 is thoroughly enjoying being a baby hahahaha

 Step by step guide to this activity and variations can be found here.

NOTE: if you are handy with tools, have lumber lying around and time on your hands not to forget ULTIMATE DEDICATION you may enjoy this post on DIY red rods.


These have been on my to buy list for quite some time. In my impatience (till I can get them Beidhnillah) I ended up with the DIY with available resources. Eventually we never got around to making the last one. But loved working with what we had.  They weren't toooo durable but lasted us some time. The kids miss them and hope to get them too.

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