Thursday, May 26, 2016

Lego Math

Math is a subject that many students struggle with, yet the concepts are all around us. Recently, many innovative teachers have realized that Lego bricks make the perfect way not only to teach kids math, but also to show them how math is a part of our everyday lives. Here are five math concepts, ideas that many kids struggle with, which you can use Legos to illustrate on a kid-friendly level.
  • Fractions: The different colors and sizes of Lego bricks enable you to create a visual representation to show kids how fractions add up to make a whole, and as their skills progress, how they can add them to make other fractions. For instance, if you call a 2-by-8 brick a "whole," then a 1-by-1 makes 1/16, a 1-by-2 makes 1/8, a 2-by-2 makes 1/4, and so on. Use contrasting colors to demonstrate the concept at a glance.
  • Square Numbers: Lego bricks offer a perfect way to demonstrate square numbers. Just have your child make a square where the number of pegs down each side is the number they are squaring. Then ask them to count the total number of pegs in the square.
  • Area and Perimeter: Like with square numbers, Lego bricks give kids a visual representation of a concept, a way to count out the answer, and -- as their math skills improve -- a demonstration of how the formulas for perimeter and area actually work. Using the base pieces, create squares, rectangles, and nonconforming shapes with the Legos, and ask your child to find the perimeter and area. You can also do it in reverse, and ask your child to create a shape that has a specific perimeter, area, or both.
  • Multiplication and Times Tables: Lego bricks make a perfect way to demonstrate multiplication in a way that kids understand better than just rote memorization. If you're teaching the two times table, for instance, make a rectangle with two rows of three or four pegs. Explain that "2 x 4" is the same as two rows of four pegs, and ask your child to count the pegs to find the answer. Then add a 1-by-2 brick to quickly add one peg to each row, and ask again. Repeat with each number, and then repeat the entire process with each times table.
  • The Mean or Arithmetic Average: Lego brick towers make a great way to demonstrate the concept of the mean, or arithmetic average. Give your child several towers of Lego bricks: for instance, a tower of four bricks, a tower of three, and a tower of five. To find the average, have your child combine all of the bricks into one tower, and then split them equally into the same number of towers they started with. In this case, there are 12 total bricks, to make three towers of four bricks each -- demonstrating that the mean is four.

Tips for Lego Lessons

With Lego math, expect that not all of the lesson will be focused study. This is okay because the entire purpose of using Legos to do math is to make it fun. Have a plan for what concepts you want to teach, but allow time for free play initially. Then you can transition more naturally into the lesson at hand.


Kids learn best when their imagination is given free rein, their curiosity about the world is encouraged, and concepts are taught in ways that relate to real life. If this sounds like the kind of education you want for your child, you will love the Montessori approach. Contact our Mission Valley Kindergarten to schedule a tour of our school.

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