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29.1.13

Vintage maths

Posted by Jeanne

My mum recently passed on to me my old Cuisenaire rods. They were much loved and used and are missing many pieces - lost, no doubt after making fences for paddocks or walls for houses or some such activity not related to mathematics - which I can't ever remember doing with them. Rods, like blocks are all useful, but along with this universal usefulness comes an attrition rate that is to be expected with children and building activities.

Still, enough of the rods remain for me to be able to use them in Jemimah's geometry lessons this week, and she and I have found it rather special for her to be using the very same rods that I had used oh...so...many...years before. Well. Yes. They're not quite antique, but they're certainly vintage, and their age brings with them a sort of desirable designer style that is missing from Jemimah's plastic 10 year old version. Have a look. Old on the right; new on the left.

Invented by Belgium school teacher Georges Cuisenaire, who wrote a book about them in 1952, Les Nombres en couleurs, the coloured rods have long been helping children learn maths...and build houses. They're amongst the most useful maths manipulatives in this house. We still use them occasionally, and Jemimah is in MEP6!

I'm glad that now my daughter will have fond memories of this set too.

11 comments:

Resting In The Wildflowers said...

My kiddo's use mine, that I used in my primary years. They are faded like yours. I think they were my older cousins before mine and so are about 40 years old. The kids always end up building towers with them. Still very useful. Sometimes the older simpler ways are the best.

Butterfly said...

Love them! I have two old sets of cuisenaire rods - mine and another set I picked up for a dollar at a used book sale. Did you know there are videos showing excellent ideas for using the rods, even for algebra, at Education Unboxed and Crewton Ramone's House of Maths?

Jeanne said...

I found some videos when I was researching Georges Cuisenaire for this post. I haven't looked at them though. Do you use them?

Joluise said...

I'm not sure if I like the word vintage as I used these at school and I'm not that old!!! My mum was a school teacher and she would bring these home over the school holidays and we would make towers out of them. She had lots and lots so the towers would be very tall!!

Jeanne said...

I prefer it to 'Antique' though!

Joyfulmum said...

I never had them growing up in India! So silly me thought they were a recent invention!

Joyfulmum said...

And what fun to share yours with jemimah!

Butterfly said...

I have used a few of the Education Unboxed clips - I watch the lady and her daughters demonstrate a game, activity or strategy then I go and do the same with my children. I enjoyed the Crewton Ramone clips for the love of seeing little boys play with high level maths. I plan to use an Ed Unboxed activity about once a week.

Mama Squirrel said...

We have several sets of newer ones but also a small box of faded vintage ones like those. I bought them about 15 years ago at a thrift store for a quarter. The store staff had no idea what they were for.

mommamindy said...

I definately love the older ones! Wood feels so much better than plastic. How special to have manipulatives from your childhood.

amy in peru said...

we pull our wooden thrift store edition out lots with MEP... but yours, that vintage extra specially loved set, is very neat. i'm so glad for you :)

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