Cuisenaire Rods

Wooden blocks and rods have long been used to teach young children about numbers and basic arithmetic. These are such a tool. They vary in length from 1 cm. to 10 cm., representing the numbers from 1 to 10. All rods of a given length are the same color. They are stored in a cloth bag. This set was designed by Emile-Georges Cuisenaire (1891-1976), a Belgian schoolteacher. Cuisenaire published an account of his rods in French in 1953 and attracted the attention of the Egyptian-born educator Caleb Gattegno (1910-1988).
After the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957, better instruction in science and mathematics became a national priority in the U.S. Scientists, mathematicians, and educators introduced objects like Cuisenaire rods to communicate to students their enthusiasm for basic principles. This set was used by an American teacher in the South Pacific.
Currently not on view
Object Name
teaching apparatus
date made
date received
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
cloth (bag material)
overall: 1 cm x 14.5 cm x 21 cm; 3/8 in x 5 11/16 in x 8 1/4 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Learning Arithmetic
Science & Mathematics
Arithmetic Teaching
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Learning Arithmetic
Arithmetic Teaching
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Coralee C. Gillilland

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