Make exploring math concepts—including multiplication and place value—fun for students using Lego bricks. Here are some ideas.
Give students 10 Legos of various colors. Students stack their Legos, then they figure out the fraction for each color. This can also be turned into a math game (image below). Students roll a die and create Lego fraction towers, then they figure out the fraction. Click here for details and a printable!
Lego Area and Perimeter
Students can create big areas by putting Legos side by side, or find the area of single bricks. They simply count the studs on top of the bricks. Students can also find the area and perimeter using grid paper. Tell students not to stress if bricks don't fit perfectly on the grid paper. They can round up. Have them color the area of each of their Legos on their grid paper.
Lego Tech Integration (Area and Perimeter)
Build with Chrome: Students find and explore different plots. They can re-create a famous landmark or just play around. Once they are finished building, they can print their creations and find the area and perimeter of their structure. 3-D or 2-D versions of the art can be printed out.
Lego Multiplication: "Groups of" and Arrays
Groups of: Make multiplication fun with Legos! A Lego brick represents one group. Kids count the studs to figure out the multiplication equation. For example, 2 lego bricks with 4 studs (2 groups of 4) is 2 x 4. Then, they solve it. (2 x 4 = 8).
Array: When you look at the studs on top of a Lego, you see an array. Kids examine the rows to figure out the equation. For example, one Lego brick with 8 studs (2 horizontal rows of 4 studs, 2 x 4 = 8).
Lego Mean, Median, Mode and Range
Hand each student a baggie of various Legos and explore mean, median, mode and range!
1. Have students classify bricks by number of studs.
2. Then, have them figure out the total number of studs for each group.
3. Once they have their numbers, they figure out the m, m, m, r.
Number of Bricks With Same Number of Studs
1. Students classify bricks by number of studs.
2. Then, they count how many they have in each group.
3. Then, they figure out the m, m, m, r.
You could also build Lego Towers and classify bricks by color. Then, have students figure out the mean, median, mode and range. Set a timer and have kids build the tallest tower they can before the time runs out! They take their tower apart and classify their bricks by color. Using their data (ex: 19 red, 10 blue, etc.), they figure out the m, m, m, r for their Lego colors.
Lego Stud Structure
You could also have students build towers with various studded Legos. The only rule is their structure must balance on its own. Students try to use as many bricks as possible. When the time is up, they take it apart and classify their bricks by the number of studs. Then, they figure out the m, m, m, r.
Lego Place Value
Students toss Legos onto a bullseye target (this can easily be made out of paper). Next, gather up Legos with different numbers of studs on top. The studs will represent numbers. Students use the studs on the Legos and the place-value rings they land on to figure out their numbers. If two Legos land within the same ring, then kids count the studs on both Legos. I recommend one six- or eight-studded Lego per toss.
Lego Spatial Awareness
Students try to build an identical structure by only listening to each other's instructions. Place something in between two Lego plates so kids can't see each other's Lego building base (no cheating!). Kids take turns giving instructions. They must be very detail oriented (describe color, size and placement). Also, they have to have good listening skills so they place the Lego in the correct spot! When they're finished building, they look at their structures to see if they are identical. Did they give good directions?!
Other Lego Math Concepts
Click here for Lego dice! Students can use a special Lego die to explore greater than–less than, basic addition or subtraction, etc. They roll the die. Then, they take a Lego brick that matches what the die landed on. Students could compare the studs on the Legos they collect as being greater than or less than. They could also create towers using a regular die. Each student gets 10 rolls. Whoever's tower is the greatest wins! As for addition, students roll the Lego die two times to create an addition or subtraction equation. Then, they solve it! They could also create multiplication equations with the Lego die. For older students working with two-digit numbers, have them roll the die four times to create two two-digit numbers. For example, a student rolls a 4 and an 8, they create the number 48. Then, they roll a 2 and a 6 and make a 26. They must figure out 48 (x, +, or –) 26.
Erin Bittman is currently studying Early Childhood Education at the University of Cincinnati. In the fall, she will be a third-grade student teacher. Check out her blog, E Is for Explore!