I had been thinking about getting some Cuisenaire Rods and then saw that they were highly recommended by several people on the teaching math thread. At least on amazon there are so many to choose from -- wood, plastic, plastic locking. I'm looking for recommendations -- what type? I like wood things/toys (and, an added advantage, they make a lovely sound for small boys) but can see the advantage of the locking ones. What do the lovely HE-edders of MN think?
I've recently bought the locking ones. Pretty much the only reason was because I walked into one of our local toy shops and they were there on the shelf. I much prefer to buy things in a store than online so I can see what I'm buying. I think if I'd been buying online then I'd have bought the wooden ones for the same reasons as you.
As for how good they are? It's too early to tell. We've only had them a couple of days. When my 4 year old say them he exclaimed "Ooh I can measure stuff with these!" without me telling him what they were for so it looks promising.
It's a long time ago but wooden ones were wonderful to make log cabins with as in the Laura installs wilder stories. Cuisinsaire are great for imaginative play on all sorts of levels. Aztec pyramids work too.