Dienes shapes and Cuisenaire rods.

Figure out and count how many ways to get to 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. This activity is a precursor to Pascal’s triangle.

There are lots of activities with Cuisenaire Rods online. I couldn’t find free downloadable templates so I made my own. The smaller ones are 1in by 1in. Here is a printable one.

Task 1

We played the Dienes shapes game again (place a card with three features in common to the one on the table). I did the game with Nia (5). With Bel (7), I placed the first and last card far apart and asked her to fill in the chain. 

Task 2

Supplies: I try not to use too much specialized material so you can do it at home. There are three options here. 
- Option 1: As set of Cuisenaire rods. 
- Option 2: Lego blocks. Find a few 1x1 blocks in one color, 1x2 blocks in a second color, 1x3 blocks in a third color, 1x4 blocks in a fourth color, and 1x5 block in a fifth color. I haven't found any 1x5 so figure I can tape together a 1x1 and a 1x4 to make one 1x5. 
- Option 3: Print out and cut the download (the one below because there are more 1x1).  
What to do: How many ways can you make 
- parade of length 1? (I know, there is only one way)
- parade of length 2? 
- parade of length 3? 
- parade of length 4?
- parade of length 5?
and record the answers 

In each instance, ask your child to sort their parades by how many blocks they used. For example, for length 3, there would be: using 1 rod (just the 3); using 2 rods (2+1 and 1+2); using 3 rods (1+1+1). 
How many ways to make a parade of length 3:
one way with 1 rod, 2 ways with 2 rods, 1 way with 3 rods.

You can record all that in a table:

How it went

The Dienes shapes didn’t go so well the first time we did it. I thought that maybe it was too difficult for Nia. We did the activity first and she did it without any trouble. It helped to say out loud which three things were in common between the cards.

Bel did her “puzzle” with one mistake and about 12-14 cards.

They were too excited to move to the Cuisenaire rods. Nia did a few of the “parades” and lost interest at length 5. It got her counting so I am happy.

Nia’s parades, with a partial answer on last line.

Bel really got into this. She did up to length 5 then starting guessing the pattern from the table I filled from her work. She correctly guessed that there were 10 ways to make a parade of length 6 with 3 rods then checked her work by building the different possibilities.

Bel’s work. Building parades took too much time when they have to be of length 6.

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