How to Make a Rekenrek
Use the simple directions below to make a rekenrek for each student in your class for just a fraction of the cost of store bought models.
200 red beads
200 white beads
6 yds. beading elastic
20 medium weight chipboard sheets
Things to consider:
- The above materials will make 20 small two row rekenreks
(4in. x 6in.) This size is perfect for little hands but if you would
prefer to make a larger size purchase 8 1/2 in. x 11 in. chipboard sheets
and cut in half to make two 8 1/2in. x 5 1/2in. boards.
- The beads usually come in packets of 750-1000 so you can save
money by working with another teacher on your grade level and splitting
the cost of materials. You could also cut the boards from cardboard
boxes, although if you are making a class set this may be too time
consuming to make it worth the effort.
Directions: These directions are for 4in. x 6in. boards. If you are making a larger size adjust the measurements accordingly.
- Use the tip of your scissors (or a large needle) to poke two
small holes at each end of the chipboard sheet, about 1in. in from the
- Cut two 5in. lengths of elastic. Place one end of each piece of
elastic into the holes at one end of the board and tie in a knot at the
- Place five white beads and five red beads on each length of
elastic. When looking at the finished board, the beads should be pushed
over to the ‘Start Position’ (the right hand side), with the white beads
on the right and the red beads towards the left. Note that the start
position has the beads on the right so that when a child pushes the
beads over s/he can ‘read’ the rekenrek from left to right.
- Once all the beads are on the elastic, thread the elastic
through the holes on the other end and tie securely so that the elastic
is pulled tight.
If you are having a curriculum information session early in the year
where you will discuss your math curriculum have your students’ parents
help you with this project. Explain how you will be using this tool
throughout the year and show parents a few of the
that you will be introducing throughout the year to develop number
sense. Get them to help you out by making two for their child: one for
school and one to take home. If you have all the materials ready ahead
of time this should only take a few minutes and will save you having to
make them all yourself.
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