Some say..is that an abacus? Actually, it is the same idea just a much smaller scale. This tool is can be used as a whole group lessons, calendar time, interactive carpet time, and center renforcements. We created them at our school w/ card stock, a hole punch, pipe cleaners, and two different colored pony beads. Great parent volunteer activity.
The best example I've seen of the use of this tool is for the teacher to have one and all students to have one. Teacher asks "How can I make 4?". All students use their own think time and build "4" on their rekenrek. A student may have slide over four beads on the top OR bottom but they might have also slid over 3 on top and 1 on bottom OR two on top and two on bottom OR one on top and three on bottom. This leads to the conversation on how to decompose the number '4'.
For a DEEP explanation of how Rekenreks came around and more activities please visit the K-5 Math Teaching Resources.
Want to see something cool! Look:
A fellow coach of mine made a big one! This is my version on her genius work (that is also my adorable daughter playing with our kitten!) This will be great for demonstrations for whole group but also for centers time. From across the room, the teacher can see what the students are doing in that center. I also added the dimensions incase you wanted to make one yourself. All you need is a 10' pole, the joints listed above, a PVC cutter (totally worth having one on hand), and two different colored pool noodles. Cut, stick together, and go! We chose not to glue the pieces together because over time the pool noodles may need to be replaced. You can make that choice. Please, let me know how it goes if you dive in to Rekenreks!
Lastly, for more classroom examples and deeper understanding on the Rekenrek. I suggest getting your hands on the teacher book Number Talks. It comes with a DVD that shows a classroom at work with the Rekenrek.