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.