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A lesson on Fractions involving Cuisenaire Rods




3, 4  

Gelin Rice

Julie Koutz

Topic: Fractions

Grade Level: 3rd & 4th

Cooking With
Cuisenaire Rods


Students will identify the value of fractions at an introductory level

as related to Cuisenaire rods through the use of recipes.


*Cuisenaire rods

*Mixing bowls


Anticipatory Set:

The students will begin the class by sharing the favorite recipe they have brought in

from home. As a class, we will identify the fractions used on their recipe cards.

The discussion will then lend itself to an exploration time with Cuisenaire rods and

the fractions that they represent.

Concept Development: We will begin the activity by allowing the children to experiment with the manipulatives. The class will discuss how Cuisenaire rods are representative of real life objects, such as ingredients on a recipe card. The teacher or “chef,’ will demonstrate the making of a recipe for the class using Cuisenaire rods. A different recipe will then be handed out to each group, containing three to four students. The recipes will consist of a variety of fractions to be represented in the mixture by Cuisenaire rods. This activity will allow students to make a beginning connections between Cuisenaire rods and their fractional value. Students will be encouraged to experiment to find the correct colored rod to represent the fractions found on their recipe cards rather than using multiple rods to represent that fraction. For example, students will use one black rod as opposed to 7 white rods when representing the fraction 7/10 .


Each day the students will exchange their recipe cards with another group. This

will provide practice with a variety of fractions and their values to prepare them

for the final activity of the week.


At the end of the week using Cuisenaire rods, the class as a whole will use

fractions in a real – life situation by making banana bread. Together the class will

mix the ingredients and pour them into mini – muffin pans. They will then take them

to the school cafeteria to be baked by the school cooks.

Assessment: While working with Cuisenaire rod mixtures, students will exchange their finished mixtures with another group to be checked for accuracy. Answers will be provided on the backs of the recipe cards. This will test their knowledge of fractions and act as an informal assessment.


Students can create their own recipes with Cuisenaire rods and share them with a



Rice, G. and Koutz, J. (1997). University of Missouri, Columbia, MO.

(The following is a sample recipe that might be used or created for our lesson.)

Cuisenaire Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough
In a small mixing bowl combine:
7/10 orange rod
2/3 light green rod
5/7 black rod
2/4 purple rod
1 pinch of white rod
8/9 blue rod
Mix until ingredients reach desired consistency.
Completed mixture should contain:
l black rod, 2 red rod, 1 yellow rod, 1 white rod, and I brown rod.

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