Saturday, June 15, 2013

Rekenrek.. no, don't spell check it!

Have you ever heard of a rekenrek? Yeah, me either. Until this week! Math Institute was super awesome but this AH-mazing new math tool definitely takes the cake.

The one pictured above is a teacher size one. It even has magnets to hang on your board. The gist of it is that it's basically an abacus that helps students learn, practice, and show combinations of numbers... hello number sense!

The direct quote from the site this image is from says: It is a manipulative model used to help students generate a variety of addition and subtraction strategies, including doubles plus or minus 1, making 10’s, and compensation. The rekenrek looks like an abacus, but it is not based on place value columns or used like an abacus. Instead, it features two rows of 10 beads, each broken into two sets of five.

I love this oh so much that I will be making them with my students next year. We even made some this week!

All you need is a piece of heavy construction paper/poster board, two pipe cleaners, and 20 beads (10 red, 10 white). Our instructor suggested laminating the construction paper first. I think I will just to ensure that they will be usable for the entire year. Cut two straight lines in about 3" long on both sides.

After your students create their pipe cleaners with beads, you put them right on the slits, flip it over, and twist them together.

The sticker at the top is so that the students know what way is up. You simply teach them that it always goes in the upper right hand corner. They learn that the red always comes first. It's easier for them.

I plan on creating them during a whole group lesson where the students string the beads and then I hook them onto the paper. I am even more excited because the person in charge of our math institute is ordering us our very own Rekenrek like the one above. It's supposed to be at my school by the end of July. Happy day! I can't wait!!

There are tons of sources out there for activities to do with these. Here is one of my all time favorite websites though. If you haven't discovered it yet, it's an absolute gold mine!!!

You can even follow them on Pinterest!


  1. Rekenreks are awesome! I made them and used them with my kinders. They loved using them during number talks. I used paper plates instead of construction paper with my kinders because it was sturdier and easier for my kinders to hold and use!

    Cindy Price
    Mrspriceskindergators.blogspot. com

    1. I love that idea! I might just have to try that in the fall. I'm really excited about using them!