Math Access for Teachers and Home Child Care Providers

Lego Math

Children will practice counting and adding whole numbers using Legos.

Content Area Standard Target
• Number and Operations
• Algebra
• Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers and
number systems
• Understand meanings of operations and how they relate to one another
• Compute fluently and make reasonable estimates
• Use mathematical models to represent and understand quantitative relationships
• Count with understanding and recognize “how many” in sets of objects
• Develop understanding of the relative position and magnitude of whole numbers and of ordinal and cardinal numbers and their connections
• Develop a sense of whole numbers and represent and use them in flexible ways, including relating, composing, and decomposing numbers
• Understand various meanings of addition and subtraction of whole numbers and the relationship between the two operations
• Understand the effects of adding and subtracting whole numbers
• Develop and use strategies for whole-number computations, with a focus on addition and subtraction
• Develop fluency with basic numbers combinations for addition and subtraction
• Use a variety of methods and tools to compute, including objects, mental computation,
estimation, paper & pencil, and calculators
• Illustrate general principles and properties of operations, such as commutativity, using specific numbers
• Model situations that involve the addition and subtraction of whole numbers, using objects pictures, and symbols
Obtain the Materials

• Legos
• Recording sheet. The children will be counting the round tops of the Lego blocks.  You can either Xerox the Lego blocks and create a recording sheet or simply draw colored rectangles and squares with dots on them to represent the Lego blocks.

Note: Small parts create a choking hazard for children. Make sure that all materials you choose to use for an activity or lesson with children meet safety requirements. Small parts are not appropriate for children who are 5 years of age or younger.

Introduce the Activity

1. Engage the children in a conversation about Legos.  Do they count Legos while building with them?  Which Lego blocks are best to build with?  What do they typically build when using Lego blocks?
2. Explain that they they are going to use the Lego blocks for counting and adding.  Explain that they are not going to count the number of blocks but instead, they are going to count the connecting dots on the top of the Lego blocks.  Say: “We will be adding Lego blocks together and counting the total number of connecting dots on the top of the blocks.”
3. Model the activity by using 2 different Lego blocks.  Introduce the recording sheet.  Explain that the children will look at the Lego blocks, add the number of dots and put the total number of dots on the given line, after the equal sign.  Ask: “The orange block has 8 dots and the blue block has 6 dots.  How many dots do the 2 Lego blocks have in all?”
4. Have extra Lego blocks or other counting manipulatives available if the children need manipulatives to help them count.

Engage the Children

1. Distribute recording sheets and Lego blocks.
2. Work through the first problem all together as a group.  Once you are confident that the children understand the activity, allow them to work independently.

• Create a new recording sheet that allows the children to add 2 Lego blocks to another Lego block or adding 2 Lego blocks to 2 Lego blocks.
• Create a recording sheet that has the children subtracting a smaller Lego block from a larger Lego block.

Encourage Vocabulary

• Add - To increase the number.  “When I add 4 dots on the Lego to another 4 dots on the Lego, I get 8 dots on both Legos.”
• Equals - The amount. “When I have 4 dots plus 4 dots, that equals 8 dots on both Legos,”
• Altogether - In total.  “How many dots are there altogether?”
• Count - To identify the amount of something by number: “How many dots do you have?"  "1-2-3!" (Point to each object while saying 1-2-3).
• Total - The complete amount of items counted.  "What is the total number of dots on both Lego blocks?”

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

• Not easily count up to or beyond 10.

Pre-K Children may:

• Easily count single and double-digit numbers.
• Be able to add single-digit numbers.

Home child care providers may:

• Have the children count the Lego blocks, not the dots on top of the Lego blocks.
• Use smaller Lego blocks with combine dots of 10 or below.

Home child care providers may:

• Create a new recording sheet that allows the children to add 2 Lego blocks to another Lego block or adding 2 Lego blocks to 2 Lego blocks.
• Create a recording sheet that has the children subtracting a smaller Lego block from a larger Lego block.

Books

• The LEGO Book by Daniel Lipkowitz (New York: DK Children, 2012)
• Hershey's Kisses Addition by Jerry Pallotta (New York: Scholastic, 2001)
• Double Play: Monkeying Around with Addition by Betsy Franco (Berkeley, CA: Tricycle Press, 2011)

Music and Movement

Outdoor Connections

• The following activity can be done indoors or outdoors. Have the children build with Legos and then count how many Lego blocks they used in their creations.  Set a theme.  For example, have them all build spaceships and then label how many Lego blocks they used to build their spaceships.  This allows for many extensions – graphing, more than, less than, differences, similarities, etc.

Web Resources

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