Monday 2 May 2011


Montessori Activity: Deciphering Between Sizes with the Red Rods

Age: From 3.5 years old (Level 2)

Acitivity Duration: 10 minutes

Preparation Time: 10 minutes


1. To teach the child to decipher between sizes.
2. To indirectly prepare the child for later work in geometry through the general observation of the geometrically regular differences in the rod's length.
3. To indirectly prepare the child for the concept of numbers by demonstrating the unit difference in length between the 10 successively longer rods.


1. The red rods
2. A floor mat or a tray.

1. Arrange the rods in a random order on a tray/floor mat, so that your child can see them clearly.

2. Put the rods horizontally to the right of you and ask your child to sit on your left.

3. Tell your child that you are going to build the rods into a staircase starting with the shortest. select the shortest rod and put it in front of you. When you are selecting your rod, run your right hand along to the end so that your child will see that you are finding the next length.

4. Build up the rest of the staircase, finishing with the longest rod. Take the opportunity to introduce the mathematical language of long and short.

5. Tell your child that you are going to dismantle the staircase so that he can build it.

6. Take the rods one at a time and place them to the right of your child in a random order.

7. Invite your child to build the staircase.

Video Demonstration:

How to Make the Red Rods Yourself?

1. Cut 10 pieces of cardboard in the following dimensions: the length 5cm, 10cm, 15cm, 20cm, 25cm, 30cm, 35cm, 40cm, 45cm and 50 cm long by wide 2.5cm long.


Cost of the real stuff: 46 USD from, since I made it with cardboard, it cost me only the price of 1 cardboard, which is almost free.

Additional Information:

Since I don't have so many red Lego bricks, I have decided to make the "Red Rods" with red cardboards, as many people do. The Red Rods are simplier than the Number Rods, in that it is just one colour. It is to be introduced before the Number Rods. Although I have made the "Red Rods", I am quite relaxed about whether I will introduce both the Red Rods and the Number Rods to J. I think it is alright to just introduce either one, as they are very similar in terms of functions. But if you think that I could be wrong, please feel free to share your opinion, as it is always good to have a second opinion.

This is one of my favourite books providing hands-on guide on Montessori activities that is practical, simple, easy to follow and fun to read. The book also provides lots of ideas on using simple equipment that you can find at home. I found this idea in this book. You can find them in Amazon:


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