What are the Red Rods?

The Red Rods are part of the Montessori Sensorial Curriculum.

It is common for sensorial materials to isolate one quality, such as weight, to assist the child in better understanding their environment.

The Red Rods are comprised of 10 wooden rods, differing in one dimension, length. The smallest rod is 10cm long, and the largest rod is 100cm. Each rod increases by increments of 10cm in length.


The Red Rods are introduced to children from 2.5 to 6 years of age. This is often after they have worked on preliminary sensorial materials, such as the Knobbed Cylinders, Pink Tower, and Brown Stairs.

The direct purpose of the Red Rods is to develop the child’s visual and muscular perception of length.

Secondary aims include: developing the child’s coordination of movement, assisting with balance and concentration, and providing the child with the basic language of mathematics.

Through repetition with the Red Rods, the child will learn to discriminate between long and short, build the rods in a stair formation, and find disharmony in building the rods incorrectly.


Invite the child to collect two mats for this activity (collecting and unrolling one mat at a time).

Show the child how to hold the shortest rod by griping over the top of the centre part of the rod, using your right thumb and fingers.

Slide the rod off the shelves until it is fully out, and grip the rod with your left hand below your right hand.

Carry the rod to the first mat.

Have the child carry the remaining rods one at a time and place them randomly on the mat.

Once they are all assembled have the child stand to your left.

Carefully pick up the longest rod and place it horizontally near the back of the second mat.

Tell the child you are looking for a specific rod, the next longest one.

Chose the second longest rod and place it directly under the longest rod of the other mat, and align the left edges.

Once it has been placed, check to see if it is well aligned by sliding your hand along the left edge of the two rods.

Continue in this manner until all the rods are placed in the correct order. You will notice the rods coming closer and closer to you as each rod is placed.

Invite the child to construct the Red Rods. To help, ask them which one they are going to start with. Only offer guidance if the child needs assistance.

Once complete, replace the rods, longest to shortest, back on the shelf.

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