DIY Number Rods

Number Rods are one material I’ve hummed and hawed on.  I tend to want to have all the materials but I kept putting this one off.  First of all, none of the children have been interested in the red rods.  Not at all.  And when I do get them out, they have a really hard time putting them from shortest to longest.  They may just not have been at a sensitive period for it, but they also just seemed too big for our room.  The red rods come before the number rods, but I’ve felt that Pumpkin 1 understands longest to shortest enough and is ready for numbers.  She recognizes the number symbols from 0-10 from books and she can count to 10 but she hasn’t grasped one to one correspondence yet.  We have a set of mini number rods but even with those and working with her on counting things, she just hasn’t been grasping it.  Then I noticed a picture in the banner of a blog I love: What Did We Do All Day.  At the bottom right you see number rods with a child holding a frog on them.  Pumpkin 1 likes to play with playmobile people or any little toy people and animals and tries to make the materials their houses and chairs (which I discourage as materials must be used in their proper manner or their purpose is lost).  If I had her make a frog jump from colour to colour and count with each jump, I knew she’d really like that and it just might be the thing to give her that “aha” moment about one to one correspondence.

Now, the thing was, I’d just made a large materials purchase and hadn’t purchased the number rods.  So I was wondering what I could do.  I checked out this list of DIY Montessori number rods and was contemplating the duplo ones but they were smaller than what I wanted.  There were some made of Janga blocks, we have Janga blocks but I could just see my daycare kids bending them at the tape.  And I’d have to paint them. Then I had a brain-waver.  Mega blocks!  We have a bunch of Mega Blocks and there are red and blue ones and they’re just the right size.  I was thinking of gluing them together but the packing tape would work and because they fit into each other they’re more durable when taped together than Jenga blocks.  So I set to work and they turned out beautifully.


Of course the bump on the end isn’t ideal, but I don’t think it affects the concept too much.  The great thing about them is that when you want to do addition, you can fit them together.  Also the size is perfect.  Not too big, but big enough for hopping a frog on.


The other great thing is that you can stand them up.


Now did the frog hopping work?  I was actually surprised how fast Pumpkin 1 caught on.  After showing and explaining she was hopping the frog along each rod and counting one to one.  I have her make the frog start on the table or carpet and hop up on to the rod.  She was really intrigued.

Now I only had enough red and blue blocks to make the first 5 rods so I had to order another bag of Mega Blocks.  Luckily Walmart has them on sale and offers free shipping.

You can easily find mega blocks for sale at yard sales or on Kijiji.  And even if you bought two brand new bags of Mega Blocks, it’d still be more than $20 cheaper than the wood ones.  I’m pretty excited about my home-made number rods.  I’m not one for making my own materials because I either don’t have time, they wind up costing way more than expected, or I can’t find the parts I need to make it myself without going out of town, or it just doesn’t look as nice.  But I’m pretty happy with these.  Let the counting begin!



I’ve realized that the number rods should all start with red so when I got my bag of Megabloks I fixed that by making the rods I had longer ones.  However, I’m still short red and blue blocks.  So unless you can get Megabloks cheap, it’s not economical to buy 3 bags of them to make the rods unless you really want tons of Megabloks.




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