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Sunday, September 1, 2013


Rekenrek comes from the Netherlands and is basically an arithmetic (or calculating) rack.  It’s a visual way for children to develop a strong sense of 5 and 10.  Children can use the rekenrek to count, add, or decompose numbers.  Smaller versions of the rekenrek have two rows of ten beads.  Five red beads and five white beads.  (Versions for older students have more rows.)  You can purchase these or make your own as shown from fun foam or cardboard, pipe cleaners, and pony tail beads.  One advantage making these for your class is that all the children can be engaged at the same time.

Children always move their beads to the right or “start position” to begin.  As they work they move the beads to the left or “action zone.”  “Reset” reminds them to return the beads to the start position.

Counting and Cardinality
Say a number or hold up a numeral card.  Children slide beads to show the amount.  Touch the beads and count.
Tens and Ones
Slide over the top row.  That's ten.  Call out other numbers between 10-20 for the children to demonstrate.
Addition and Subtraction
*If I had 4 cookies and I ate one how many would I have left?  Show me.
*If I had 5 stuffed animals and I got 2 more for my birthday, how many would I have?  Can you show me?
Decomposing Numbers
*Show me how to make 7.  Can you show me another way?  Who can make 7 another way?
What is one more?  One less?

Here is a very good YouTube video on introducing the rekenrek:

Here is a free booklet that you can download that aligns activities to the Common Core:

There is also a free "Number Rack" app that you can download.

Counting Bracelet
A simple version for the beginning of the school year might be a counting bracelet.  Simply string 10 beads (5 of two different colors) on a pipe cleaner.  Twist the ends to make a bracelet.  Children can slide the beads to make sets, add, subtract, etc.