Week 3 | Building Cuisenaire Rod Trains - Play Discover Learn 24/7

Week 3 | Building Cuisenaire Rod Trains

Lesson Objective:

Students begin to build trains using rods to begin building equations.


  • Small Group Set of Cuisenaire Rods
  • "Where do Steam Trains Sleep at Night?"
  • Discoveries Journal Page and Crayons
  • An imagination

Lesson Plan

Read  "Where do Steam Trains Sleep at Night?“ by Brianna Caplan Sayres

At the end of the story, ask them to close their eyes and think of a train.

    What color is it?  Where is it going?  What is the weather like?   Do you have long train or a  short train?  Is it fast or slow?  Is it a steam train?  Is it carrying passengers or freight?

This activity is design to settle the child down and give them a narrative to build on for the activity.

Building Trains with Cuisenaire Rods Activity

Using rods, begin to build a train of different colors placing the rods end to end.  Describe the train by saying,

  "My train is an orange plus a red plus a green.“

Then build another train shorter than the first.   Describe this train in the same fashion.  Then ask the student,

   “Which train is shorter, the first train or this train?”

Then build another train that is longer than both trains.  Describe the train in the same manner as before.   Then ask,

  “Which train is the longest?”

In a classroom setting, consider using magnetic rods on a magnetic white board as they are better suited for everyone to see.

Ask the students to return to their Cuisenaire rods and begin building their own trains. Have them tell you about their trains and then describe the trains in the same manner as you described your train. 

Math Journal Activity

Have students record a few of their trains on the journal page below.

More activities exploring and comparing trains are found in PDL's Math Task cards, worksheets and play Mats Module 1.3.