The child places the rods in order of gradation and gains a knowledge of numbers as fixed quantities.

The Large Number Rods

The Large Number Rods

Roberta Frosolini


The child is introduced to counting up to 10 using fixed quantities and experiences the numbers 1 to 10 as concrete objects.


  • Learn the sequence of numbers
  • Learn the quantitative relationship between numbers




  • Ten long rods with alternating 4cm square sections of red and blue, increasing 10cm in length from 10cm to 1m
  • A floor mat


Names of numbers: one, two… ten

Control of Error

Visual: The number of sections in each rod act as a guide.

The child, having already worked with the Red Rods, should have a visual memory of the stair correctly built.


Once the child has learned a digit, its card is placed on the rod with the corresponding quantity

Perform this exercise on the floor mat. Invite the child to lay the mat out and to carry each rod to the floor. Let her place them randomly and explain that the red section needs to be lined up on the left hand side of the mat.

Ask the child to build the stair starting with the smallest rod. Once the child has built the stair, you can start to teach the numbers, 1 to 10. Use the 3 Period Lesson, introducing three numbers, or two, at a time.

When introducing the number rod, touch the red and blue sections, and slowly count them. It is better if you introduce the child to two or three rods at a time until you cover them all, over a period of time.

Once you have covered all 10 rods, let the child take the stair any time she wants and count to ten.


The Number Rods are identical to the Red Rods except that each number’s name is taught simultaneously with its matching rod. The red and blue sections draw attention to the significance of the rods’ graduating sizes. Each the rods can be laid out with its matching number card.

The Number Rods are ideal for reinforcing ordering as they are a fixed quantity: 1 will be always 1, 10 will be always 10. In addition, because each number is clearly isolated on the rods, they provide a good introduction to hierarchical inclusion by showing how the quantity increases whilst still including the previous quantities. Once the child has mastered the arrangement of these rods she has a sensorial consciousness of them.