A web site for the developing language teacher

Cuisenaire Rods and Silence
by Tim Hahn

- 3

Continue placing rods on the table for the students to name and once the group is feeling confident and responding quickly and naturally to the stimuli put down two of the same color. Depending on your group's mother tongue you'll get different responses to this new stimulus.

When teaching the plural in English the main concern in this situation is that we don't use the indefinite article and that the "-s" is added only to the noun. Continue by placing individual rods and manageable groups of the same colored ones on the table. Before asking for questions ask who hasn't caught on and have them take your place at the table to put different rods on the table. This gives them a chance to test their theories or clarify doubts by listening to the group's description of the configurations. Finally have the group tell you what the salient features of this plural are.

With the rods hidden from the learners' view by the upright lid place three or four different colored rods on the table. Elicit from the group the first phrase: "A red rod,". Hold up your hand or signal in some other way that they are not to go on. Tap out the rest of the sequence using the words you've put on the board: "a white one and a black one." Show with the pointer that the group is to start from the other end. The reverse sequence will be "A black rod, a white one and a red one." Remove the rods and replace them with another three or four and ask the group to say this sequence. Remove these rods and replace with a sequence that has at least two rods of the same color in it. Put these rods in the middle or at the end. By now the students or at least some of them will feel confident enough to start right in with describing the sequence. They will easily say "An orange rod, a dark green one and something like a two blue one (sic) when they get to the last phrase wait for someone to come up with the plural and if after thirty seconds no one does either point to the "s" you've written on the board or if you're using hand finger correction show them they must add something to the final word. Have the group reverse the order to produce: "Two blue rods, a dark green one and an orange one."

At this point you may ask the group what "one" means or does in these phrases. As usual you should accept all theories, but if they're way off, the group is telling you that your examples haven't been clear enough or that they need more practice.

For further group practice have the students work in pairs or small groups taking turns at setting up and describing the different configurations.

If you want to review numbers place different numbers of rods on the table saying "Three rods. Ten rods. etc." Turn the task over to the students first by placing them on the table yourself and having volunteers supply the correct number and then having volunteers put various numbers of them on the table which other volunteers or the group number.

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