# Why the Heck Should You Use a Rekenrek?

Why the heck should I use a Rekenrek? That's the question I asked myself as I pulled this strange apparatus out of my bag. You might be asking yourself that question right now, too.

I shoved it back down deep inside the bag and didn't think about it again for at least a year.

Now six years later, here are all the Rekenreks I use in my classroom.

I can't imagine teaching math without them. My first grade students and I use our Rekenreks often. During calendar time, I frequently model number concepts on a variety of Rekenreks or bead racks/strings. Throughout the year, students explore the following Math Path concepts:

Math Path for Structuring Numbers up to Ten:

• Subitizing
• Combinations of 5
• 5 and Some More
• Combinations of 10
• Doubles to 10
• Near Doubles to 10

Math Path for Structuring Numbers up to Twenty:

• 10 and Some More
• Doubles to 18
• Near Doubles to 18
• 9 and Some More
• Combinations of 20

We also use a bead string with 100 beads to explore number relationships up to 100. I have seen extraordinary math thinking from my students as a result of using Rekenreks.