Red Rods

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Red Rods.jpg




  1. Ten red rods of the same square cross-section varying in length from one decimeter to one meter. Each rod increases in length by one decimeter.
  2. A floor mat.


This is an individual exercise, which is done on the floor on a floor mat. (Note: work cycle to be observed)


  1. The Directress first shows the child how to carry the rods to the floor mat.
  2. For the first shortest rods starting from the shortest, we use one hand to take it to the floor mat. 
  3. As for the longer rods, hold the rods vertically with two hands holding it in the middle of the rod.
  4. All the rods to teach the child,  are placed at random on the floor mat.
  5. Directress then shows how to build a star.

Starts with the shortest rod to the longest.

  1. Directress selects the rod, place it in front of the child on the mat.
  2. Use two fingers to feel the length of the rod by running the fingers through the rod.
  3. Build the stair by placing it just below the previous ones with both hands, one on each end of the rods. (If the child is unable to hold the longer rods in this manner, then allow them to hold the rods in the middle with one hand).
  4. Directress may use the Three Period Lessons to teach the child, "Long and Short".
  5. Return the rods back to the shelves by starting with the longest to the shortest.

Control Of Error

The visual sense acts as a control of error, but the muscular sense may also be involved.

Points Of Interest

If the child experiences difficulty in doing this exercise, start with three or four rods instead:

  1. The shortest ones.
  2. The longest ones.
  3. Alternate rods.

Without a doubt, it is the sense of sight, which most benefits from the exercise in discovering chance errors, such as rods out of place.
The long rods teach the idea of length.

Note that meters and decimeters are not part of the language used at this stage. Later when children are ready to meet such a standard measurement units, the long rods will be again useful.


  • Develop the child's visual and muscular perception of dimension.
  • Develop the child's coordination of movement and fine motor control.
  • Prepare the child, indirectly, for mathematics by giving the child experiences in comparison, grading and seriation with different lengths.
  • Provide basic language- important in mathematics.


Variation 1:

  1. When the child is ready, i.e. the child is competent at building the complete stair with all ten rods, invite the child to build the complete stair.
  2. Directress then shows how to move the smallest rod by placing it at the end of each rod to show the difference between the lengths of each rod with the previous ones, starting from the bottom to the top.

Variation 2:

  1. Build the stairs with the rods lying down vertically.
  2. Stack the rods one on top of other.
  3. Build a maze with the rods starting from the shortest. Allow the child to walk in the maze for fun.
  4. Placing the rods in the middle of the previous one before it.
  5. Building a fan with the rods.