New to Cuisenaire Rods?

If you are new to the idea of Cuisenaire Rods, the following will help you choose the most suitable products and books to support your aims.

The buttons below take you to useful resources for teaching with the rods.

Which Set should I buy?

There are no instructions or a manual as such. Cuisenaire Rods don’t require that level of guidance. However, there are workbooks and textbooks written for use with the rods. There are also books by people who have used the rods and written about their experience.

The Starter Packs are useful if you want to dive more deeply into the methodologies surrounding the Cuisenaire Rods. The different Starter Packs have slightly different applications.

The largest set of rods with 308 pieces in all, ideal for two students or a small group to work with.


Ideal for individual work and easy to carry with you in a school bag or handbag.

Gives an excellent start in basic math, with suggested exercises, and workbooks to work through.

Gives support to parents and children who are struggling. Ideal for absolute beginners.

This pack was put together for Teachers to read through and use with their students.

Great for beginners with a mini set of rods to carry about more easily.

Which Books should I get?



There are many books by Dr Gattegno and selecting the right one for you can be challenging. We think the Maths Textbooks are most suitable for maths teachers or those with teaching experience. They are used in conjunction with the Workbooks 1-6

The best book for beginners...‘Now Johnny Can Do Arithmetic’ looks at why some students struggle, and illustrates how they can overcome these struggles.

Now Johnny can Do Arithmetic

The first step we must take is to obtain a set of Cuisenaire rods. Let your child play freely with them and watch what they do. You will learn much you never knew about them – their inventiveness, their endless capacity to renew their games, their sense of pattern, and they way in which, while playing, they pick up the essential concepts upon which mathematics is based. 

You will discover that they have an astonishing memory for abstract facts..........and a natural skill in mastering the relationships they find exemplified in the colours and sizes of the rods. Because their minds are young and fresh they may well be quicker at this than you are yourself, and this will give them great encouragement.’

page 6 Now Johnny Can Do Arithmetic by C. Gattegno (slightly ammended)

Modern Authors....

The Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM) was co-founded by Caleb Gattegno in 1952. It continues to thrive with an active membership, some of whom have written a number of popular books about using Cuisenaire Rods. We recommend ‘ Cuisenaire – from Early Years to Adults’.
Whether you work with young children or older learners the use of practical materials is fundamental to developing conceptual understanding.

"Our underlying pedagogy is that play doesn't begin and end with the Early Years.....Thus for anyone new to Cuisenaire, the first step is to play with a box, to make pictures and patterns and, for older learners, to make a note of any connections you are noticing. Everyone needs to play. And play periodically."

Page 5 'Cuisenaire Early Years to Adult' by Helen J Williams, Mike Ollerton and Simon Gregg


Madeleine Goutard

Two seminal texts by a gifted teacher whose work with children has been a source of inspiration for many.

‘Talks for Primary School Teachers’ is not a textbook, nor an ABC of the rods, but a study in simple language of the Cuisenaire-Gattegno approach to mathematics teaching.

'Mathematics and Children' may be most appreciated by maths teachers. In this book, Madeleine Goutard describes her creative, yet mathematically rigorous use of Cuisenaire rods to teach mathematics. Goutard sees to the heart of any difficulties children may have with mathematics and shares her methods for bringing children to a clearer understanding. For the teacher, Goutard provides quite simply an outstanding role-model for maths teaching.

Looking for Further Resources?

Caroline Ainsworth, recognised by the National Centre of Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics, has kindly given us permission to show videos of her pupils working with the rods. These can be very useful for teachers or parents wanting to see how flexible and dynamic this material is, and how well children work with the rods.