Using Rekenreks to Enhance Math Learning in Kindergarten

  • Early Learning Center
  • Learning
Natalie Gootkin, Kindergarten Associate Teacher


“What do you notice?” This is the first question I ask my students when looking at our new math tool. I don't say much except for that this will be a tool used to help practice our numbers. My students eagerly begin sharing their thoughts and I write down what they say on an anchor chart for everyone to see.

“There are red and white beads.”

“There are two metal sticks.”

“I see five red beads and five white beads.”

“You can move the beads.”

“The beads go sideways.”

“You can count the beads.” 

“I see two rows with ten beads on each row.”


This year we are introducing a new math tool to be used in our kindergarten and 1st grade curriculum. We are excited to introduce rekenreks. Rekenreks are used for students to understand numbers in a multi-sensory way. Students can manipulate rekenreks to show different ways of illustrating the same number. When looking at a rekenrek you will notice there are 10 beads on the top and 10 beads on the bottom. The beads are broken down into five red and five white on each row. 


There are active beads and others that are inactive, or just on the board. By sliding the beads left you put certain beads in play. By being able to manipulate the beads students can show different ways to represent the same number. For example, if I ask “show me the number four” students can represent the number many different ways. They can show me four red beads on top or two red beads on top and two red beads on the bottom. They can also show one top red bead and three bottom red beads. The objective is for the students to show different combinations for making the same numbers. Using a rekenrek allows for students to walk away with a deeper understanding that four isn't only two and two but can be four and zero or three and one. This year, I am excited to begin using rekenreks in our math centers to teach my students numbers in a creative, visual and conceptual way. My end goal is for them to go into 1st grade with a stronger foundation of numbers and have the flexibility to see numbers in a different way. 



  • Early Learning Center
  • Kindergarten
  • Math