Getting your kids to sit still and focus can be difficult, but getting them to listen and learn is a challenge for any parent.
And boy, did we learn that during lockdown, when many of us faced the nightmare that was homeschooling?
We also learned how hard our teachers work for and with our children.
When the kids get back into the routine, you may want to give them extra help with their math homework – but it doesn’t have to be serious.
There are several ways they can learn while playing. Now it might come as a surprise, but aside from the kids stepping on LEGO pieces scattered across the floor several times, you can actually use these brightly colored bricks for teaching.
They are a great practical picture for a math class so you can more easily see how the answer is calculated.
Here are 10 ways you can make kids fun with LEGO math, from the basics to more complicated methods and exciting games.
1. Learn to count
This is the easiest way to teach with LEGO by numbering each block and building a tower of up to 10, 20, 30, etc.
If your child adds another stone to the tower, you can count the number with them.
You can also teach your children hundreds, tens, and units with different colored bricks and give them a number that can be represented in hundreds, tens, and units.
2. Amazing addition
Again, this is another easy way to teach your kids how to add. Use the stones for sums, for example for 5 + 6, you can put 5 stones in one pile and 6 stones in another pile and count all stones together to get the total answer. You can make the sums as easy or as difficult as you like.
Another trick you can try is to take a handful of Lego and ask your child how many blue and red bricks there are in total. You would then have to add the blue stones and then the red stones together to find the answer.
You can also build towers of 10 or more to represent higher numbers and add them up. You can also create sets of towers, each with a different number, and ask them to find the two towers that add up to a specific tower. For example, you can ask, “Find me the two towers that add up to 14”.
Subtraction should be a breeze with bricks – as with addition, you can use the bricks to demonstrate taking away.
For example, you can start with a stack of 20 bricks and ask your child, “How many bricks do you have to subtract or take away to have 9?” – If you can see the total visually, you can find the answer.
You can also use LEGO to help with the comparative questions some children struggle with: “How many more yellow blocks are there than blue?”
4. Mind-blowing multiplication
As your child progresses, you can use your stones to teach multiplication. Whether you are learning the two-time table or the 12, you can use the stones to create multiples of any number.
So for the 4-way table, you can create multiple rows or towers of 4 and then use the rows to calculate the sums.
For 4×6, you can create six towers of 4 to find the answer. You can also ask your child questions like “What do 5 groups of 7 do?” as another way to rephrase the question.
5. Magnificent division
As with multiplication, you can use the stones to teach division. You can use your multiple towers and ask your child to split them up into groups.
For example, you could use a tower of 12 people and ask your child to split it up into groups of three. You may be wondering how many stones will there be in each group of three.
6. Have fun with fractions
Lego is great for factions because they come in so many different sizes. You can use the different sizes to teach a whole, two halves, three thirds, four quarters, etc.
Distribute the stones and select a whole stone, then find the smaller stones and write down the appropriate fraction for each one.
You can even stack the stones, for example take a stone and label it 1/4. Then ask your child how many 1/4 stones there are to make a whole and have them build them in a tower.
7. Empty your bowl
This game is great for teens or older kids and all you need is a bowl, LEGO and cubes. The easy version is to put a handful of LEGO in a bowl. Then each player rolls the dice and takes the number of stones from the bowl. The game ends when the bowl is empty.
Have older children write down how many buns it takes to empty the bowl. How many stones you use is up to you – but when a die goes up to 6, it’s best to fill the bowl with a multiple of six (any number in the Six Times Table).
You could ask your child questions like, “How many rolls does it take to empty the bowl?” or ‘What’s the smallest amount of rolls you need to empty the bowl?’ or even “What is the largest amount of rolls to empty the bowl?”
8. Stamp out your numbers
You probably have a lot of play batter lying around and there is a great game to play that your smart kids will love.
It’s probably best to use DUPLO bricks or a larger block for this. Roll out the dough and then either just call out a number, or you and your child can create number cards by cutting up paper and writing different numbers on them.
Shuffle the number cards and let your child choose one. Then use the bricks to stamp the number on the dough. You can use stones of 2, 4, and 8 to create the points in the dough. If you only need one, you can use a flower.
This game makes your child think about how many points they need by breaking down the number to stamp out the correct number of points.
9. Roll and build
Another way to build towers is to introduce dice and turn them into a game and the competitive element will liven things up. You need a stack of LEGO or larger blocks and each player takes turns rolling the dice. Regardless of the number you get, is the number of stones you are allowed to take and start building and adding to your tower.
The winner is the player with the highest tower when all the stones on the table are gone.
You can also play it the other way around by building a large tower and then subtracting the pieces from the number on the dice. The winner is the person who first dismantles their tower.
10. Letter symmetry
This final game will teach your child the concept of symmetry. All you need is a mirror and a couple of postcards. Have your child choose a letter and then they have to try to create the letter using the blocks by building half of the letter against the mirror until the reflection reveals the letter.
It may take a bit of practice, but after a few tries you will get the hang of it in no time.