Cuisenaire Rods & Homeschool Fun for the Younger Set

image While Naomi Rivka was out at ballet class yesterday, Gavriel Zev enjoyed some happy one-on-one time with mama.  He’s been working well in his phonics book, Get Ready for the Code, lately, but yesterday I decided to skip it so we could work in our Math Rods ABC Book, the Cuisenaire Rods Alphabet Bookimage

The book hasn’t been as wonderful as I’d hoped; really, you could create your own rod drawings for a kid to fill in pretty easily.  But he still enjoys using it from time to time, and it has some basic instruction-following steps for filling in the letters (“now fill in the letter with only RED rods; count how many you used”) that he’ll do if I push him gently into it.

I made a crocodile for him, while he worked on the one in the book:

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Honestly, he really doesn’t like most of the pictures in the book.  But the alligator captures his imagination every time.  I think we’ve done the A page more times than any of the others put together.  He also did the airplane.

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You can just see in the picture here – before we started, just as I always did with Naomi Rivka, I had him build the “rod staircase,” a pyramid shape of rods in ascending, then descending order.  He built it amazingly quickly and seems to be developing an amazing intuition for which rods will fit where.  But he had little patience for even gentle “testing” - “show me a rod bigger than yellow and smaller than brown” and started showing me rods at random just so he could go back to what he was doing.  When I pushed him a little, though, he did show me the proper rod both times.  I didn’t go any further – really, we were just doing it for fun.

imageAfterwards, we read a couple of stories, and then I let him play with Reading Eggs – which was a mistake because it’s an expensive site and our free trial runs out this week.  I joined a while back, but didn’t get around to letting the kids use it.  He loved it, though, and for the first time, I let him use the mouse on his own.  He was unsure at first, but picked it up REALLY quickly.

He was raving about the singing, muffin-eating ant, so naturally, Naomi Rivka had to try it.  We let her do it for a while tonight and she loved it as well.  At least her free trial still has another 5 weeks, because I had a fresh coupon code.

HomeschoolBuyersCo-op has this on for 25% off right now, bringing it “down” to $56 per kid per year.  Blah.  A couple of months ago, they had a deal where you could buy it with SmartPoints (referral points, of which I have over 3000 sitting doing nothing).  I was going back and forth and eventually went to bed, thinking I could sign up in the morning.  When I went to sign up, the deal was GONE!  So now, instead of nothing, it’s more than $100 if I want it for both kids… :-(

Hmm:  I could probably just get one membership for Naomi Rivka and let Gavriel Zev do the lower levels whenever he felt like it… well, that’s probably not allowed, so let’s just pretend I didn’t say anything.  :-)


  1. How are you liking the Get Ready For the Code workbooks? I was debating on whether to get those for my son or just go directly to ETC. Actually, I probably should get the getting ready series first because even though he knows his letter sounds, he has trouble recognizing what words have those sounds.

  2. Hmm...
    I was dismayed that there is some handwriting in there, and GZ doesn't write, barely draws. Plus, I wanted to do HWOT with him as an intro to handwriting.
    But as it turns out, he likes when I write and he traces the letter over mine, so we do that.

    I don't know how essential the books are. I love ETC, as you know, but why do they need THREE books to lead up to the very first book in the series? It seems like too much to me, but I drank the Kool Aid and now own all 3.

    I do like this book more than cheap dollar-store phonics and teachers'-store alphabet preschool and K-type workbooks.

    The pages seem smarter and more kid-friendly with more white space than you see in most books. And none of those flashy graphics I can't stand.
    We shall see; right now, we're just plodding our way slowly through Book A.

  3. That's what bugged me, that they split it up into 3 separate books! I have been happy with the ETC workbooks though, so I was interested in trying the GRFTC. My daughter really enjoys ETC because they're silly and fun.
    I do get bored with the cheap store bought phonics that I've used in the past for pre-K/K. He is learning to write his letters but would probably do better tracing like you're doing with GZ.
    Thanks for the input!

  4. That reminds me - not really any silliness in the A, B, C books that I can see. But GZ enjoys the weird pictures anyway. :-)

  5. You have chosen to use two of my favorite homeschool materials. My children loved Explode the Code. It was the only workbook we used. Later on I taught my daughter algebra using Cuisenaire Rods. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas and insights.

  6. In reply to Kathleen, the Get Ready for the Code Workbooks teach the letters of the alphabet. Book one of Explode the Code assumes that your child already knows the sounds of each of the consonants and begins to teach the short vowel sounds.


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