Alycia Zimmerman, who teaches 3rd-grade in New York, uses the familiar Lego toy as an aid for teaching math to her students. She explains: “In the classroom, the tiny bricks are now my favorite possibility-packed math manipulative.”
This innovative instructor recommends that other teachers planning on following her example first spend some time just playing with the iconic toys. She suggests building towers and exploring the design possibilities while becoming familiar with the various pieces. Once you are comfortable playing with the pieces, it's time to move on to the math possibilities.
What mathematical concepts can students learn through Legos?
- part, part, total
- addition and subtraction of positive and negative numbers
- multiplication and division
- squared numbers
- mean, median, mode, and range
- spatial and proportional awareness
Other subjects can also benefit from the manipulation of Legos. In response to Ms. Zimmerman's article in Scholastic magazine, a music teacher envisioned using Legos to teach her budding musicians the sometimes difficult concept of musical rhythmic notation. More complex Lego sets are used in the upper grades to teach computer programming, engineering, and robotics. A college chemistry instructor even mentioned using Legos to teach how atoms combine to form molecules!
Ms. Zimmerman offers these tips for using Legos in the classroom:
- Prepare bags ahead of time with only the bricks needed for that day's lesson. Depending on the lesson, each student or group of students will need their own bag.
- The students are going to get excited when the Legos come out, so 'go with the flow'. Allow a specified amount of play time before asking the students to buckle down and work. She says the work will proceed more smoothly if the students are allowed to get their eagerness to play with the Legos out of their system first.
- Establish ground rules for how the bags are to be returned. The bricks should be separated (unless instructed otherwise) and the bags sealed.
If you would like to find a position in the field of education where you can apply innovative and exciting techniques such as these, contact us. We have the expertise to help you find the right job for your talents.
- Education: America's Oldest Teacher Proves Age is Just a Number
- Education: Schools Turn to Staffing Agencies For Teachers
- Education Boost: How to Help Kids Fail Successfully
- Apple Watch Bolster's Special Ed
- Mental Health: How Pixar's "Inside Out" Reveals Our Internal Battles
- Learning Alternative - Kendrick Lamar Bridging Teaching With Hip Hop
- Got Heart? Maybe Your Future Career Lies in Special Ed