When learning and playing live side by side, you have found a key to lessons that stick. LEGO is one way to teach children math concepts they can relate to while having fun. The best thing about using LEGOs as math manipulatives is that the novelty never wears off.
The kids will still love playing with LEGOs and using them for school at the same time. LEGOs are also perfectly designed math manipulatives. Here are a few ways to reinforce math concepts using LEGOs.
You can use LEGOs to create your addition practice for the day. Gather a bunch of random LEGOs in a bag and then have your child pick out two of them. Have your child count the pegs or studs on the top of each LEGO and write down the numbers. For instance, if a 2×2 brick and a 2×4 brick were picked, then your child writes down 4+8=. If the child does not know the answer right away, then she can count the pegs to get the answer.
Use LEGOs much the same way as you did with addition practice. Your child will take two LEGOs and be sure to write down the higher number first and then the lower number. To check the answer, the child simply covers the number of pegs on the brick with the higher number as is on the lower number.
An alternative would be to not count the pegs and use several 2×2 bricks and count each as one brick. If the subtraction problem is 5-3, then the child would build a tower of five blocks and then remove three of them to get the answer.
Multiplication Practice (finding area)
Have your child select a Lego brick. The child would count the number of pegs across and down. Those numbers would provide the dimensions. Then have the child multiply the two numbers to find the area. For instance, if a child picks a 2×4 brick the equation would simply be 2×4 and the are would be 8. Using the bricks will help the child visualize what it means to multiply and therefore make it easier for the child to understand the concept.
Use this helpful printable worksheet for finding area with LEGOs.
Grab a 2×4 brick, 2×2 brick, 1×2 brick, and a 1×1 brick. The first one will represent a whole. Then each brick after that is a fraction of that whole, ½, ¼, and 1/8. Once you introduce your child to that concept then show how two 2×2 bricks equals one whole and so on. You can move on to having your child create equivalent fractions as well.
Another way is to take several bricks of the same dimensions but a variety of colors. Then build a simple tower and now you are all set to practice. For instance, build a tower of five bricks with 3 green, 1 yellow, and 1 red. The child will learn that 3/5ths of the LEGOs are green, 1/5th is yellow and 1/5th is red. You get the idea, now go have fun with it.
Greater Than/Less Than Practice
If you have a child who is just learning the value of numbers, then this is a great activity to reinforce greater than/less than. Take out number flash cards and divide them into two piles. Then, have your child flip one from each pile over. Then your child will build two towers matching the numbers on the flashcards. Once completed the child will easily see which number is greater and which is lesser.
Place Value Practice
Create towers of tens by using ten of the same size LEGO. Then gather up single LEGOs that are 2×2 bricks or smaller. The towers are your tens and the single LEGOs are your ones. Now, place a number of tens and ones in front of your child and have her determine the number. Then give your child a number and have her gather the proper amount of tens and ones. As the child is more comfortable with this you can move on to using this for double digit addition and subtraction.
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