Cuisenaire rods /ˌkwiːzəˈnɛər/ are wooden or plastic rods of varying lengths which were invented in 1952 by a Belgian teacher, Georges Cuisenaire. The set consists of 10 rods measuring 1 cm to 10 cm and those of equal length are assigned the same colour.
Although they were originally designed as a system to help students understand concepts in mathematics, they can also be used in ELT, especially when using the Silent Way, and for teaching word order and sentence and word stress.
Among the multiple uses for Cuisenaires:
- by the teacher to show the student where the mistake is by standing the "wrong" rod on end, for example, or pushing it out of line, without interrupting the flow of speech, thus encouraging the student to correct him/herself.
- by other students - if another student has answered a question incorrectly - to show where they "think" the mistake was made.
To hand/at hand
Although Lego pieces can be used to similar effect, they have the disadvantage that students may find it difficult to resist the urge to build something out of them - although this could actually be useful if circumstances allow a communicative activity to be developed from there. Coloured counters could also be used, but rods and Lego pieces have an advantage in that different lengths can be used to point out the number of syllables or letters of the missing/wrong words, whereas mere colours are useful for showing the type of word.