What is a Rekenrek?
Directly translated, rekenrek means calculating frame, or arithmetic rack. Adrian Treffers, a mathematics curriculum researcher at the Freudenthal Institute in Holland, designed it to support the natural mathematical development of children and to help them generate a variety of addition and subtraction strategies, including doubles plus or minus 1, making 10’s, and compensation. Students can use the rekenrek to develop computation skills or solve contextual problems. Once children understand the operations of addition and subtraction, and can model various situations, it is important that they automatize the basic facts by finding and using patterns and relationships. Unlike drill and practice worksheets and flashcards, the rekenrek supports even the youngest learners with the visual models they need to discover number relationships and develop automaticity.
The rekenrek looks like an abacus, but it is not based on place value columns or used like an abacus. Instead, it features two rows of 10 beads, each broken into two sets of five, much like the ten frames.