Sunday, July 27, 2014

Rekenreks for Numeracy: Create Your Own for Only Pennies!

I recently attended a conference for Singapore Math. In many of the classes, I learned about a wonderful tool that brings the concept of numeracy from an abstract concept to a concrete concept for young students. 

It is called the REKENREK.

This type of rekenrek is based on ancient similar devices such as the abacus. This version was created in the Netherlands. When counting from 0 to 20, you would use a two string rekenrek like this. Each string has 10 beads. The first 5 are red and the second 5 beads are white. The reason for this is for something called "subitizing". The eyes are trained to recognize that the red ones are 5 and so the child doesn't have to count them out one by one when working with the 5 red beads. Using this model allows the student to count by 5's when counting to 20. Students can use these beads to create numbers in groups of 5's and 10's.

To use the rekenrek, you begin with all beads slid to the right side like the picture above.

For a kindergarten classroom, you would want to create an individual rekenrek for each child. However, since we do not begin with students counting from 0-20 at the beginning of class, you would create one and simply cover the bottom row with a folded 3x5 card to block it out to only work with the numbers 0-10 like below.

Creating your own rekenreks is very simple and inexpensive. Pony beads are sold everywhere including Michael's and Hobby Lobby. However, I found them very inexpensively at 

To make a rekenrek, you will need:
     1) plastic canvas
     2) 10 red pony beads
     3) 10 white pony beads
     4) 2 pipe cleaners
     5) optional: 1 folded 3x5 card

1st) String 5 white beads and 5 red beads on each of the two pipe cleaners.

2nd) String the pipe cleaners through the back of the plastic canvas.

 3rd) Twist the ends of the pipe cleaners together so they are secured. You can either bend the ends down or you can snip the ends off.

4th) adjust as needed so that the lines are fairly straight and the beads can move smoothly.

The rekenrek is turned like this to begin using.

I have a new board on pinterest called Singapore Math. I have pinned many ways that you can use these rekenreks in your classroom.

If you are using rekenreks in your classroom, I am using them this year for the first time and would love to hear how you use yours.


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