Create a List

List Name

Rename this List
Save to
Back to the Top Teaching Blog
June 7, 2017

Build Your Own Rekenrek With Pool Noodles

By Meghan Everette
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    A rekenrek is a math tool that resemble an abacus. It is a great tool for early math learners and helps build a solid foundation for counting and place value. I wanted a display rekenrek, but didn’t really want to spend $30. With a little creative construction, I made a custom desk-display rekenrek for under $11.

    Materials for a 50-bead rekenrek:

    ·      Two 10-foot ½” PVC pipes ($2.45 each)

    ·      Two pool noodles in different colors ($1 each)

    ·      12 ½” PVC tees ($3.32 for a bag of 10 + 2 additional)

    Tools:

    ·      Something to cut PVC with. You can purchase a PVC cutter, get the store to make cuts for you, or use a miter saw

    ·      A mallet is helpful, but a hammer will do

    ·      Sharp kitchen knife

    Optional materials:

    ·      Plastic spray paint, for painting the PVC poles

    ·      PVC adhesive, for permanent attachment

    Directions:

    1.     Cut the PVC pipe into:

    a.    Five 2½-foot sections

    b.    Ten 4-inch sections

    c.     Four 6-inch sections

    2.     Mark one- to two-inch sections on the pool noodles. Try to make slices as even as possible. Cut using the kitchen knife as a saw. You need 25 slices of each color.

     

    3.     Slide five of each color onto each of the five 2 ½ foot PVC sections so there are ten total slices on each.

     

    4.     Create two arms by alternating a four-inch section of PCV and a PVC tee. Alternate five times keeping the third knob of the tee facing the same direction each time. Repeat to make the second arm. Use a mallet to help hammer sections together.

     

    5.     Attach the arms to the ends of the five noodle sections on each side and hammer into place.

     

    6.     Make a stand by placing a tee on each of the arms that will rest on the ground. Attach the six-inch sections on the four empty joints to create a stand.

    If you’d like a different color or choose to cover the stamped wording on many PVC pipes, use a plastic spray paint to paint the PVC sections before assembling. My pipe held very tight, but if you are worried about it separating, you could add PVC adhesive to ensure sections are stuck together. Many commercially sold rekenreks have white and red beads, but any two colors will do. Both 20-bead and 100-bead rekenreks are typical sizes. If you choose to make a 100-bead rekenrek, you will need to repeat the directions above, making sure that at the 50-bead mark, you switch the other color to the left-hand side.

    There are many ways to use rekenreks to help students subitize, compose, and decompose numbers. Some useful resources on teaching with rekenreks include:

    ·      Using a Rekenrek as a Visual Model for Strategic Reasoning in Mathematics by Barbara Blanke

    ·      MathSolutions Number Talks K2 Rekenrek — This teacher is working with very young students on different ways to compose and decompose numbers less than 10 using a rekenrek.

    ·      Numbers to 100 — Module 5, Lesson 15 of Kindergarten from engage ny develops student understanding of counting the Say Ten way and counting larger numbers by 10.

    ·      Teen Numbers — Module 2, Topic D from Grade 1 engage ny contains lessons that build on student understanding of renaming a group of ten and ten and teen numbers as ten and some more, a concept that is displayed well on a rekenrek.

    ·      BrainingCamp Subtracting with 20 — This virtual manipulative model shows various ways to think about subtracting using a rekenrek.

    While you are preparing for next year and hanging out at the pool this summer, grab a few extra pool noodles and build a useful tool you can use all year long.

    A rekenrek is a math tool that resemble an abacus. It is a great tool for early math learners and helps build a solid foundation for counting and place value. I wanted a display rekenrek, but didn’t really want to spend $30. With a little creative construction, I made a custom desk-display rekenrek for under $11.

    Materials for a 50-bead rekenrek:

    ·      Two 10-foot ½” PVC pipes ($2.45 each)

    ·      Two pool noodles in different colors ($1 each)

    ·      12 ½” PVC tees ($3.32 for a bag of 10 + 2 additional)

    Tools:

    ·      Something to cut PVC with. You can purchase a PVC cutter, get the store to make cuts for you, or use a miter saw

    ·      A mallet is helpful, but a hammer will do

    ·      Sharp kitchen knife

    Optional materials:

    ·      Plastic spray paint, for painting the PVC poles

    ·      PVC adhesive, for permanent attachment

    Directions:

    1.     Cut the PVC pipe into:

    a.    Five 2½-foot sections

    b.    Ten 4-inch sections

    c.     Four 6-inch sections

    2.     Mark one- to two-inch sections on the pool noodles. Try to make slices as even as possible. Cut using the kitchen knife as a saw. You need 25 slices of each color.

     

    3.     Slide five of each color onto each of the five 2 ½ foot PVC sections so there are ten total slices on each.

     

    4.     Create two arms by alternating a four-inch section of PCV and a PVC tee. Alternate five times keeping the third knob of the tee facing the same direction each time. Repeat to make the second arm. Use a mallet to help hammer sections together.

     

    5.     Attach the arms to the ends of the five noodle sections on each side and hammer into place.

     

    6.     Make a stand by placing a tee on each of the arms that will rest on the ground. Attach the six-inch sections on the four empty joints to create a stand.

    If you’d like a different color or choose to cover the stamped wording on many PVC pipes, use a plastic spray paint to paint the PVC sections before assembling. My pipe held very tight, but if you are worried about it separating, you could add PVC adhesive to ensure sections are stuck together. Many commercially sold rekenreks have white and red beads, but any two colors will do. Both 20-bead and 100-bead rekenreks are typical sizes. If you choose to make a 100-bead rekenrek, you will need to repeat the directions above, making sure that at the 50-bead mark, you switch the other color to the left-hand side.

    There are many ways to use rekenreks to help students subitize, compose, and decompose numbers. Some useful resources on teaching with rekenreks include:

    ·      Using a Rekenrek as a Visual Model for Strategic Reasoning in Mathematics by Barbara Blanke

    ·      MathSolutions Number Talks K2 Rekenrek — This teacher is working with very young students on different ways to compose and decompose numbers less than 10 using a rekenrek.

    ·      Numbers to 100 — Module 5, Lesson 15 of Kindergarten from engage ny develops student understanding of counting the Say Ten way and counting larger numbers by 10.

    ·      Teen Numbers — Module 2, Topic D from Grade 1 engage ny contains lessons that build on student understanding of renaming a group of ten and ten and teen numbers as ten and some more, a concept that is displayed well on a rekenrek.

    ·      BrainingCamp Subtracting with 20 — This virtual manipulative model shows various ways to think about subtracting using a rekenrek.

    While you are preparing for next year and hanging out at the pool this summer, grab a few extra pool noodles and build a useful tool you can use all year long.

Comments

Share your ideas about this article

Meghan's Most Recent Posts
Blog Post
One-Stop January Shop: Every Resource You Need

Get great ideas, lessons, resources, interactives, and more for January. Celebrate the new year and Chinese New Year, and embrace the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with tips, books, and a host of other materials!

By Meghan Everette
January 2, 2017
Blog Post
13 Big Ideas for Big Nate and Other Graphic Novels

Read on for 13 ideas for teaching with Big Nate's box set and every graphic novel. Capitalize on student interest and hit reading skills hard with the visually-rich format.

By Meghan Everette
December 6, 2016
Blog Post
December Resources for Winter Holidays

Get links to winter projects and ideas for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and more. Find books, articles, blogs, crafts, and Printables for celebrating diversity and heritage all year long.

By Meghan Everette
November 21, 2016
Blog Post
November: Free Resources From the Election to Thanksgiving

Grab more than 100 November resources for Veterans Day, Aviation History Month, the 2016 Election, and Thanksgiving. Get links to interactives, lesson plans, articles, blog posts, and printable resources to plan easily with Scholastic all November long.

By Meghan Everette
October 24, 2016
Blog Post
Free Common Core Math Games for Every Math Monster

Print free, differentiated math games with a monster theme for math night or a monstrous math class. Get kindergarten through fifth grade Common Core aligned math activities.

By Meghan Everette
October 17, 2016
My Scholastic

Susan Cheyney

GRADES: 1-2
About Us