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

Week 7 | Building Cuisenaire Rod Paths

Lesson Objective:

Students are introduced to building paths as alternative to building trains with more opportunities to engage a child's imagination. 


  • Small Group Set of Cuisenaire Rods
  • "Marley Goes to School" By John Grogan
  • Free activity page below
  • An imagination

Lesson Plan

Begin with free play for 10-15 minutes. Talk with students about their creations and note any interesting discoveries. 

Break for story time and read, ​"Marley Goes to School" By John Grogan.  Who doesn't love Marley?  Marley's adventure filled day pairs great with the story play mat featured from PDL's Building Equation Paths.  

Building play mats is an alternative to building trains.  It taps into a child's imagination encouraging them to create more interesting equations.  

If you have a story felt board, you can prepare jumbo size felt rods to place onto the story felt board or you can also use Jumbo Cuisenaire Rods.  I personally prefer the magnetic Cuisenaire Rods and a white board. As you are reading the story, add rods to the story board painting Marley's adventurous path through school.  

Story Discussion

At the end of the story, describe your path that you created.  It is a red plus a dark green plus a ​light green plus a yellow plus a blue plus a light green plus a tan plus a purple plus a red plus a dark green.   

Ask the student's, "Is there a shorter way I could write this?"  "Maybe just one letter for each rod?"

Decided what letter will represent each rod.  Then rewrite the equation using letters and introduce the symbol for plus.  ​ r + d + g + y + b + g + t + p + r + d


Once the story is over, have the children return to their Cuisenaire rods and ask them to build their own path. 

Have the students describe their paths.  Write down their equations for them or if they desire, have them write their equations.  

Math Journal Page

Offer students the opportunity to draw their paths on the free activity page below and encourage them to include elements of the story. You may want to offer to read the story again while they are drawing.

For more activities and ideas for building equation paths, check out my free PDL's Building Equation Paths Activity mats and worksheets.   Or purchase PDL's Building Equation Paths to get 12 activity mats and over 200 worksheets.