If you set aside the alternate sizes (using only the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th and 10th levels in the "staircase" of lengths) they might work for some of the early Miquon lessons, but there are places where the color attributes of the particular rods are important, where questions say "if red is one, what is white?" or "how many different ways can you make a green rod?" or which ask children to observe the way in which a brown plus a dark green is the same as an orange plus a yellow (building an appreciation for regrouping to make tens, the basis of the ongoing work with larger numbers). So you really need ordinal lengths up to 1 x 1 x 10 cm to prepare the way for place-value learning.
You can often find sets of cuisenaire rods used.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
I don't think other rods would work because there are exercises in the Miquon book where you have to lay the rods over rod outlines.
BUT I was able to get some free from someone on a local homeschool list. Discovered quickly that those weren't enough - we have 2 kids at home! - and bought a big bucket from Rainbow for something like $18.
If I had been patient, or started looking earlier, I'm sure I could have found more freebies. ;-)
Good luck! (and now I have to check my siggie bc I haven't posted here in like 2 years...!)
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