Rekenrek translates loosely to calculation rack or arithmetic rack, and it was designed by a Dutch mathematician. The rekenrek is a great visual model for developing a strong sense of 5 and 10, and it supports a strategy-based approach for learning calculations.
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There are commercial rekenreks available, but maybe you’re looking for a more budget-friendly version. What you’ll find below is a materials list, step-by-step instructions, and a link to a free, 44-page booklet on how to use the rekenrek. Weekend project anyone?
- 12 x 18 foam sheets. Each sheet makes 9 rekenreks, so three sheets will make a class set of 27 rekenreks.
- Red and white pony beads (6 mm x 9 mm). Each rekenrek uses 10 beads of each color.
- Black chenille stems (pipe cleaners). Cut 2″ off the ends of the pipe cleaners.
Cut each foam sheet into nine 4″ x 6″ rectangles. I used the lines on my paper cutter and a ruler to make 4 small marks where I was going to poke the pipe cleaners through. They are 1″ in from the sides and 1″ apart.
I thought I would have to make holes with a hole punch, but I quickly realized I could easily poke a hole with the end of the pipe cleaner. Poke the ends of the pipe cleaners through on one side and fold them down.
Twist the ends of the pipe cleaners together.
Thread 5 red beads on each pipe cleaner and then 5 white beads. Poke the other ends of the pipe cleaners through to the backside.
The finished product!
The Math Learning Center, a nonprofit organization whose aim is to improve math education, has several FREE PDF booklets for introducing and using the rekenrek. They are fabulous resources! They also have a free Number Rack app.