# 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.

To learn more about making bead racks with your students, go to Making Bead Racks under the IDEAS tab.

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