Legos and Math: A Connection Worth Building On

Legos and math, the two seem to be an obvious connection — one that many of us have stumbled across during one Pinterest search or another. Truth is, Legos can be more than the simple manipulative tool that we find on pins and blogs across the internet. They are definitely powerful as a manipulative tool, but their capability to support higher level thinking and real world problem solving should be where we focus our energy.
Last week, Lego Education (@Lego_Education) announced the launch of More to Math, their first math focused curriculum for grades 1 and 2. Earlier in the month, I had the chance to play around with the More to Math Core Set as well as talk to Leshia Hoot, Senior Segment Manager for Preschool and Elementary at Lego Education. I was excited to see the dedication to creating tools and resources for teachers that encourage deeper thinking and problem solving skills in the early grades.
As we look at preparing our students for deeper learning that ignites and encourages their creativity and capacity to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems, we have to start from the beginning. Waiting until students hit 6th or 7th grade to develop key skills for success only sets us and our students up for struggle and frustration. After looking into the curriculum it was clear that there was an intentional inclusion of high level mathematics. The Lego Education group worked with Dr. Shirley Disseler, Assistant Professor in the School of Education at High Point University to assure that the program met the needs of students and teachers. There was careful thought around how to prepare students for middle school and high school at this young age and within the context of the Common Core State Standards. This includes preparing students for success in algebraic thinking, logic and reasoning, order or operations, and spatial thinking skills.
Lego Education is on a mission to ensure that students’ educational journey starts off in the best way possible. “Everyone can be good at math, it is a skill that can be learned and practiced,” says Hoot describing the growth mindset that is so important to developing young mathematicians. “It is so cool to see young children that are opened minded and able to think in a flexible fashion.” The challenge for educators is to encourage this mindset and flexibility so that it stays with these youngsters throughout their education career.
I asked Hoot about her own educational journey when it came to math and her story is one we hear far too often. She started out loving it, she was engaged in her math and science classes and even wanted to be an astronaut, but by about the 6th grade (when Algebra was introduced), she become much less interested in those fields. “We have to fix this, we have to fix math/STEM education, and we have to start at a young age.” Hoot identifies that for her, the problem was about not seeing the bigger picture, not seeing that math could help solve the interesting and critical problems facing the world around her. Hoot and the team at Lego Education are driven by the idea that every child should experience hands on learning, be deeply engaged and challenged and they hope that More to Math can be a solution to that problem.45210_MtM_Prod_Classroomset_08_psd_Prev_1.jpg
So What’s Included in the Program? 

  • Lego Bricks – 520 bricks with sorting tray and organizational tools (enough for 2 students to work individually or in a group)
  • Curriculum Pack – includes specific lesson plans, assessment tools and best practices – all designed to teach problem solving, reasoning, perseverance, precision, modeling, and representation.
  • Math Builder – Interactive whiteboard software designed to help teacher model activities, spark class conversations, and create a space of collaboration.

As a digital learning enthusiast, I couldn’t help but think about what this would look like in a blended classroom. As is, it seems to be it would serve as an excellent tool in a classroom rotation, but down the road, I would love to see Lego Education investigate what a more blended program could look like. There has to be a cool way to include a more technological component!
More to Math is available to order now and will begin shipping in January 2015.

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