Skip to main content

Cuisenaire Dough Ornaments

DSC08398This was a math idea straight out of the Idea Book for Cuisenaire Rods at the Primary Level, but I saw it there last night and figured it was exactly what we need. 

We’ve both been getting frustrated with math because Naomi Rivka’s handwriting isn’t good enough to do math with – her numerals are all backwards and even she can’t tell the difference between her 2’s and 5’s.  And we’re at a point in the Miquon Orange Book where writing numbers is kind of important.  Argh.

(The backwards thing is probably my fault for introducing Hebrew and English handwriting at the same time.)

Anyway, I thought we’d take a break this week, or at least, today.  So despite a horror of salty homemade play-dough, and a love of REAL play-doh! I mixed up a batch of Cuisenaire’s suggested dough mixture.  I let Naomi choose the colour… and then we got to work.

Before we started on the main activity, I had the kids play around for a bit.  I had Naomi roll her dough into three balls:  small, medium, and large.  Then we made snakes:  small, medium and large.  Finally, I had her try to make two balls that were exactly the same size.

We weighed everything on the digital scale – perhaps next time, we could use the bucket balance for a different type of measurement.  I did the “Piaget-experiment” thing once she had her two identical balls.  I squished one flat and asked her which was bigger.  Then I made them into balls again, then rolled one out into a long, long snake.

She was continually astonished that despite the apparent difference in size, they both weighed the same.  She kept predicting that the longer snake would be “bigger,” but then the scale showed the exact same reading.  I remember doing those types of volume experiments in high school with my sister Sara, who’s 32 now.  Amazing!

Then, we were onto the main activity:  creating an ornament based on impressions of the Cuisenaire “math rods” into the dough.

This is actually a serious exercise where children learn, on some level, to “translate” 3-d rods into 2-d representations.  This is useful for understanding math symbols – ie the eventual transition from concrete manipulatives to paper-and-pencil math.  Not that the kids knew any of that, or cared.

I’m a model student; I was trying to do the exercise textbook-style, stamping various sizes of rods neatly into the dough.


This was Naomi Rivka’s second attempt.  She made me crumple up her first try, which I hate (she’s learned from Elisheva the Perfectionist that if her work is less than perfect, it must be eradicated) but then she did a good job with the second. 


I “drilled” holes in hers and mine with a pencil so we could hang them up after baking.  When she saw the pencil, she got very excited and wanted to do stuff OTHER than press rods into her dough, but frankly, they use play-doh all the time, so I said she could do that later on if she wanted to.  She was okay about it, and stuck to the program after that.

And here’s Gavriel Zev’s special take on this activity! 

DSC08391   DSC08395 DSC08396 

He later built a rod train and completely surrounded it by dough.  Took some doing to wash off all the dough afterwards.  I’m always thrilled when I can involve him in one of our “schooling” activities.  I have been thinking about his educational “needs” a  bit more lately, as I mentioned in this post.

But ew, if anybody has a recipe for homemade “play-dough” that doesn’t totally crud up your hands with salt… please, PLEASE let me in on it!!!


I must have been feeling “mathy” today because while GZ had his swimming lesson, Naomi and I also worked through the first couple of pages of Telling Time with the Judy Clock.

I like how this book starts out very casually, talking about time in general, about morning and night, and helping kids get to know how long certain activities take.  We’ll see how this thing goes when it gets into the numbers of it all…

Maybe tomorrow I’ll get my act together and actually plan our Week in Homeschooling!!!


Popular posts from this blog

לימודי קודש/Limudei Kodesh Copywork & Activity Printables

Welcome to my Limudei Kodesh / Jewish Studies copywork and activity printables page.  As of June 2013, I am slowly but surely moving all my printables over to 4shared because Google Docs / Drive is just too flaky for me. What you’ll find here: Weekly Parsha Copywork More Parsha Activities More Chumash / Tanach Activities Yom Tov Copywork & Activities Tefillah Copywork Pirkei Avos / Pirkei Avot Jewish Preschool Resources Other printables! For General Studies printables and activities, including Hebrew-English science resources and more, click here . For Miscellaneous homeschool helps and printables, click here . If you use any of my worksheets, activities or printables, please leave a comment or email me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com, to link to your blog, to tell me what you’re doing with it, or just to say hi!  If you want to use them in a school, camp or co-op setting, please email me (remove the X’s) for rates. If you just want to say Thank You, here’s a

Hebrew/ עברית & English General Studies Printables

For Jewish Studies, including weekly parsha resources and copywork, click here . If you use any of my worksheets, activities or printables, please leave a comment or email me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com, to link to your blog, to tell me what you’re doing with it, or just to say hi!  If you want to use them in a school, camp or co-op setting, please email me (remove the X’s) for rates. If you enjoy these resources, please consider buying my weekly parsha book, The Family Torah :  the story of the Torah, written to be read aloud – or any of my other wonderful Jewish books for kids and families . English Worksheets & Printables: (For Hebrew, click here ) Science :  Plants, Animals, Human Body Math   Ambleside :  Composers, Artists History Geography Language & Literature     Science General Poems for Elemental Science .  Original Poems written by ME, because the ones that came with Elemental Science were so awful.  Three pages are included:  one page with two po

It's Heart Month: 3 days left to save lives!

Dear Friends & Family: Hi, everybody! Sorry I can’t stop by in person... you're a bit out of my area.  :-) We’re out walking up and down on our street on this beautiful afternoon to raise money for Heart & Stroke.  This cause is important to me (I won't say it's close to my heart , because that would be tacky!).  I hope you'll join me by donating online. Growing up, I watched as every single one of my grandparents' lives were shortened by heart disease and strokes, and my father had a defibrillator that saved his life on more than one occasion.  Heart disease and stroke kill 1 in 3 Canadians and are the #1 killer of women. Please click this link to be redirected to my main page at the Heart & Stroke website: Thus ends my personal appeal.  Official information follows.  :-))) ----- Heart disease and stroke is the #1 killer of women - taking more women's lives than all forms of cancer combined. But no one is immune. Th