Right before we moved, I sold a lot of stuff on eBay. One of the things I bought with the proceeds was a box of wooden Cuisenaire rods.
(Hannah's first time playing with the rods)
These have been on my wish list for several years now. This seemed like the perfect time to buy them - I had the money, they were up for a good price on eBay, and I thought that Hannah was finally old enough to enjoy them. (I didn't think about Ainsley because I have some set thoughts about math and one of them is that math is a school-y subject, and only a child of a certain age would be ready for toys that are made to teach math concepts. I have some unschooling of myself left to do.)
(Ainsley's first time playing with the rods)
When I put them out the first time, both girls approached them in their own characteristic way. Hannah asked how she was supposed to play with them, Ainsley dumped them out and started building stuff.
I didn't answer Hannah directly. I started messing around with them, making daisies and staircases and modern art and while I did that, I mentioned that the rods were made with specific measurements that fit together in interesting ways. She started doing her own thing, and we were off.
She ended up, as she usually does, ending up doing what the makers of the rods intended children to do with the rods - making mathematical connections.
Every time since then that we've gotten them out, it's gone the same way.
Ainsley builds things - buildings, farms, playgrounds, bridges ... And I've been surprised at the mathematical discoveries she makes from non-directed play. The bridge supports have to be the same size, or it won't work. The pigs have to be smaller than the horses who can't be too big too fit in the barns. The parents in the playground are taller than the kids, whose size has to be adjusted to fit onto the swings. Little things, but quite striking when you watch her little mind work them out.
Hannah pushes different ones together and tries to find which other rods will line up exactly on the side. Then she adds some to the top of the second row and makes the first row and a third row equal. She makes up games and recruits me to play with her. She measures different things with the rods, trying to use as few rods as possible to measure the length of something.
Grayson's little regimental soul is fulfilled with lots of colored sticks and a box full of dividers to put them into.
So if these have been on your 'maybe' list or your wish list and you get a chance to get them, my vote is to give them a try.
Right now, my children just having fun playing with them, but if I notice a desire for more, I have this to check out.
Math is the one area of homeschooling that I have to remind myself to calm down about. Very nervewracking.