Week 9 | The Cuisenaire Rod Race - Play Discover Learn 24/7

Week 9 | The Cuisenaire Rod Race

Lesson Objective:

Children are introduced to racing rods.  It is a wonderful opportunity to explore the relationships between rods from multiples, factors, equivalency and more. 


  • Small Group Set of Cuisenaire Rods
  • "Cows to the Rescue" by John Himmelman
  • Free activity page below
  • An imagination

Lesson Plan

Begin with free play for 10-15 minutes. Ask the students about what they are creating and engage with their discoveries. 

Break for story time and read, "Cows to the Rescue" By John Himmelman. This fun book pairs well with Sleepy Barnyard Animal Play mats in PDL's Fraction Exploration or use the free page below.

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.  You can also use the play mat featured here from PDL's Fraction Exploration

As you read each page, race 3 different rods on the story board.  ​ The rules of the rod race is that the one in last place goes first, and when there is a tie, let which ever rod you desire go next.  Race until you reach an agreed upon finish line or race until all the rods meet at the same point. 

Story Discussion

At the end of the story, discuss the rod race.  

  • What do you think I was doing?
  • What did you notice about each rod?
  • What was your favorite part of the story?

This is a fun opportunity to see the children's thinking. See where their thinking leads. Did they notice when rods ended at the same time? 


Once the discussion is over, explain the rules of the Rod Race. 

With or without the featured play mat, ask the students to race the white rod, the red rod and the purple rod.   This is a great group activity or individual activity. 

Throughout the rod race, note any additional discoveries.  

Math Journaling 

Offer students the opportunity to draw rod race 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.


Easily extend this activity by racing different rods.  PDL's Math Task Cards for Module 1 has rod racing task cards for more ideas.   For more learning opportunities and activities for explorating fraction, multiplication and division, check out PDL's Fraction Exploration Bundle for Cuisenaire Rods

multiplication fraction with cuisenaire rods