As evidenced in the Common Core for Mathematics, one of the most important tasks for primary teachers is to help young children develop a solid understanding of number and number sense -- their meanings, their associations to one another, and how we work with them.
The Rekenrek is one of the most versatile math manipulatives every created. It consists of two strings of ten beads each, broken into two groups: five red beads, and five white beads. This design encourages students to make mental images of numbers. Allowing students to use 5 and 10 as anchors numbers for counting, subitizing is obviously more efficient than one-by-one counting. The Rekenrek allows students to work with the visual models they need to discover relationships between numbers and develop a variety of strategies in addition and subtraction, including doubles plus or minus one, making tens, and compensation, thereby leading to automaticity of basic facts.
Rekenreks allow for an unlimited variety of math activities, for example:
-Modeling numbers between 0 and 10
-Modeling numbers between 11 and 20
-Modeling Number Families
-Math Journal Prompts
-Representing Number Stories
-Creating Mathematical Disagreements
-Building Missing Addends
-Turn Around Facts
-Math Center Activities