Supporting Quality English Teaching

Learn from my experience

Learn from my experience

Learn from my experience

G’day Readers!

Teaching Tools

Do you remember my blog post about secret weapons for YL teaching?  What was your choice?  Well if you recall my colleague Agnieszka Lewandowicz chose Cuisenaire rods . When asked why she uses them, she responded with this list: for voting rewards, pronunciation e.g. word stress, model building for prepositions, grammar focus e.g. to draw attention to form, and for classroom management e.g grouping students.

Excellent – a multi-tasking classroom tool which can be used for all age groups! 

So, I asked Agnieszka to take over today’s blog and to share a Cuisenaire rods lesson plan. Because she has so many ideas this is Part 1 of the lesson plan guide, Part 2 will be posted later this month – so keep checking the blog.

Agnieszka Lewandowicz’s Guide to Cuisenaire Rods – Part 1 

CRs offer the potential of variety as they appeal to many senses. My students are generally better motivated and participate willingly in each stage of the lesson when they know they are going to use the CRs. Textbooks abound in interesting material but still, teachers run a risk of falling into routines. This often results in predictability on the part of the teacher and lack of concentration on the part of the learners.

The activities I would like to present below (revision of conditionals and prepositions of place) were designed for my Intermediate group to provide plenty of room for learner creativity to unfold.

Asking learners to work in pairs and take responsibility for what they do with language and rods allows more freedom of choice and more reflection on how they use language. Additionally, rods might provide an excellent and ‘tangible’ aid for heightening learners’ awareness of word and sentence stress, especially in the peer-teaching stage.

Quite interestingly, my students don’t find rods childish as they have always welcomed new techniques helping them to notice and recall language more efficiently. And last but not least, rods may prove very effective in terms of planning time and costs involved when preparing a lesson supposed to maximally hold students’ attention.

Cuisenaire rods lesson plan – part 1 Download PDF File here



1. Teacher places as many rods as there are SS in the class making sure each colour repeats. SS with the same colour sit together.

2. Teacher gives SS instructions and they carry out the tasks (for example, discussion questions, checking homework together).


Focus on Pronunciation with listening:

1. Teacher reads out a sentence and SS decide how many words they can hear.

(Ask students to repeat the sentences they hear first and then count the words – this helps internalise the structure better.)

2. SS in their colour group / pair place as many rods as there are words on their desks

3. After the second reading SS replace longer rods with the short ones to indicate lack of stress or weak forms.

4. SS build their own sentences and represent them using rods.

Pronunciation focus (my input)

If I had enough money, I’d buy myself a huge house with a garden.

She’d spend much more time inside her dream house if she didn’t work that hard.

If you could change anything in your flat what would it be?

I’d like to live somewhere that is partly old and partly modern.

I’d get rid of these curtains if I were you.

Remember readers – part 2 of the lesson plan will be posted later this month, so keep checking the blog.

With best wishes from Agnieszka Lewandowicz

 Do you have teaching activities  you would like to contribute to the blog?  Teaching discussion points we haven’g blogged about but you want raised?  Then get in touch via email or via the comment box and become a blog star in future posts!  Rebecca :-)