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Free Play

Free play is just that.  When introducing any manipulative whether Cuisenaire Rods, pattern blocks, Anglegs, Spirographs or what have you, students should have freedom to play and manipulate the items as they wish. 

​The Purpose of Free Play

Free play allows the student to gain an intuitive understanding of the manipulative, and free play of Cuisenaire rods never loses its importance.  It should be incorporated into weekly activities throughout the year.   

But how do you know your ready to move to literal work or directed activities?

Per the Handbook of Activities (found in the Resource section above):  

Knowing when to move to Literal Work

  • the rods are of different sizes
  • that all rods of a particular color are a particular length
  • that only rods of a particular color are a particular are of a particular length
  • that rods are graduated in length
  • that one rod can replace two for a particular length, and vice versa


As your children interact with the rods in free play, attend to what they are doing.  Ask them what they notice.   Do they have intuitive understanding of the rods as listed above?