I was not one of those LEGO® kids growing up. Sure, my brothers had LEGO bricks, and every so often I’d kidnap some tiny LEGO men for a make-believe game. But I didn’t truly appreciate the engineering capacity of those studded plastic bricks. They were just so rigidly rectangular!
As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate LEGO, both for its rectilinear aesthetic, and even more so, for its mathematical might. In the classroom, the tiny bricks are now my favorite possibility-packed math manipulative! Read on for a sampling of math activities that use LEGO pieces to build and reinforce key math concepts.
LEGO – Not Just for Playtime
Chances are that if you are a parent or teacher, you already know, at least in theory, that these sturdy plastic blocks have huge intrinsic educational value. Along with the obvious creative implications, while children play with LEGO blocks, they are also building their spatial and proportional awareness. Advanced LEGO kits are even used on the high school and college level for computer programming, robotics, and more.
Let’s face it though – many elementary school teachers are women who, like me, did not grow up as LEGO experts. And until you’ve had some firsthand experience playing around with the blocks, you may not be comfortable using it as a teaching tool. So, here is my plea: Find some LEGO bricks in a storage closet or basement, and take some time exploring how they work. Count the studs, explore the dimensions, build some towers. And I guarantee, you’ll now be thinking … MATH!