If you missed my fantastic DIY and introduction to LEGO Math Ideas, read more about it here.
LEGO bricks are so much fun! There are several ways to play with them and integrate them into a math lesson. My freebie LEGO Ratio's also shows you how simple it can be to teach or practice doing ratio's with these little plastic bits.
These toys easily translate into math work for students. In fact, LEGO has an entire site dedicated to educators. There are all kinds of kits to look at too! Little Brick School House has an amazing site full of math ideas for LEGO too.
You don't have to use the LEGO tote that I created in Part 1 of this series. It just makes working with the LEGO bricks more fun and interesting. It will feel like you are building (super fun) and learning about math at the same time.
Use LEGO bricks to teach multiplication! Common Core Standard 3.0A talks about interpreting products using area models. With LEGO bricks this is fun and easy to introduce.
Start out by introducing your student to some LEGO terminology. Explain that the knobs on top are called “studs”. Pull out a 1 by 1 or a 1 by 2 and tell them it's name. Ask them if they know what 1 times 2 is. Why would LEGO name this piece a 1 by 2? Could they have called it a 2 by 1? Play a little game you could call, Name the Brick. The student would then tell the name and also tell you how many studs it has.
Pull out the other LEGO pieces and see if the student can name them. 1 by 4, 1 by 6, 1 by 8, etc. After they do that, ask them the product of each piece. “What's one times four?”
Now move into putting pieces side by side. If you place a 1 by 4 next to another 1 by 4, how many studs would you have? The student can count them or multiply them. Encourage them to use their words to describe what's happening. Practice doing this with other sizes as well. Do the Name the Brick game again.
Keep adding similar pieces and make a bigger number. Ask them if they notice any numerical patterns.
As students get comfortable with this kind of thinking, start making area models on paper to connect the Lego into a format their teacher is requiring them to know.
Update! Here are the direct links to all 5 parts of this series: