The Brick Math Lesson of the Month for December 2020 teaches students how to model decimals using LEGO® bricks. The system really helps students understand the meaning of decimals, because differentsized bricks represent tenths, hundredths, and thousandths. To get the December 2020 lesson, and a new lesson each month, sign up here. Try this with your students, at home or in the classroom (or in the virtual classroom). This system of representing decimals with bricks is a great way to reinforce the idea of decimals. The lesson starts with the Teacher's Lesson Guide. All the steps for teaching students how to model several different decimals are included. The corresponding pages from the Student Workbook follow, with space for the student to write responses as well as draw the models they have built. The illustration below shows, on the left, the brick model for the decimal 0.23, and on the right, a drawing of that same model. Brick Math is a K6 math curriculum that uses LEGO® bricks to model 11 different math subjects:
Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Basic Fractions, Basic Measurement, Fraction Multiplication, Fraction Division, Advanced Measurement and Geometry, and Decimals. It works well for homeschooling, math intervention, enrichment, and as a wholeschool program. Materials are simple and are not shared between students. It adapts easily to online instruction. If you teach math or have a student at home who is learning math, check brickmath.com. The website includes videos for both teacher training and direct instruction of students. You can learn more about how Brick Math improves student math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program.
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What makes a math curriculum right for homeschooling? There are several factors to consider when you’re searching for the best way to help your child learn math. 1. Student Engagement The best teaching methods work when students enjoy the learning process. Research has shown that “time on task” is a critical element in determining educational success. The longer a student will stay with a task while learning, the more the student will learn. Brick Math is #1 in student engagement. Kids love to use LEGO bricks to learn K – 6th grade math! The process of building math models with LEGO bricks keeps students engaged with the program, which results in learning. 2. Practical Application Math is a conceptual subject, which can make it harder for some kids to learn. Experts agree that finding ways to make math concrete through representation of the math with manipulatives substantially increases a student’s understanding of the math. The entire Brick Math program has been created to make math real and tangible to students, by modeling the math with LEGO bricks. Students who learn with Brick Math often say, “Now I understand the math! I can see it!” 3. Modular Program Math is a subject that builds on prior knowledge. For example: if you haven’t memorized the multiplication tables, you will have trouble understanding factors, and will then be mystified when trying to find the lowest common denominator. Brick Math is built in 11 modules, ranging from Counting and Cardinality in the early years, through Advanced Measurement and Geometry around grades 5 – 6. You can bring in any of the 11 Brick Math modules when your child is ready to learn that subject. Many parents use Brick Math to reinforce a math subject that their child has not learned fully from another math curriculum. 4. Easy to Teach When you are homeschooling your child, you need to be comfortable with the material so you can teach it properly. And especially with math, the teaching methods used when you were younger are not the ones being used today. Brick Math makes the teaching process easy for parents to use. The Teacher Edition of each subject has stepbystep lessons that you follow to teach the topic. There are illustrations of all the brick models you will build, as well as illustrations of the correct models that the student will build, so you’ll know they are learning. Short videos on the Brick Math website show you exactly how Brick Math works, so you’ll feel very confident when you work with your child on the lessons. You’ll know your child is learning, because the Student Edition for each subject includes an assessment in every chapter and a chart to track your child’s progress. 5. Affordable Homeschooling materials can be very pricey, and when you need to buy a new curriculum every year, the cost of so many programs can be prohibitive. Brick Math is a very affordable curriculum: One Teacher Edition ($14.95) and one Student Edition ($9.95) per math subject (less than $25 for each subject). Use the LEGO bricks you already own, or get a Brick Math brick set for $60, which includes all 250 bricks needed for all 11 subjects, plus two 6” x 6” baseplates, packed in a sturdy divided storage box for easy access and cleanup. That’s a total of less than $80 to get started, then $25 to add on new subjects. 6. Based on Sound Academic Research and Practices When selecting homeschooling curriculum, look for programs that are based on the most uptodate academic research and ideas. Especially in math, you want to be sure your child’s curriculum is keeping up with the latest information. Brick Math was developed by Dr. Shirley Disseler of High Point University, an expert in math education and learning using LEGO bricks. She created the program based on the current findings into how students learn math. The Brick Math program has been tested with thousands of students, and has been shown to be highly effective at helping students learn math in the elementary school years. Parents across the US have been astonished to discover how well their children learn math with Brick Math after trying in vain to learn from other methods. Brick Math is a K6 math curriculum that uses LEGO® bricks to model 11 different math subjects:
Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Basic Fractions, Basic Measurement, Fraction Multiplication, Fraction Division, Advanced Measurement and Geometry, and Decimals. If you have a student at home who is learning math, check brickmath.com. The website includes videos for both teacher training and direct instruction of students. You can learn more about how Brick Math improves student math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program. Last month, the Brick Math lesson was about Customary Liquid Measures (cups, pints, quarts, etc.). We got a LOT of comments about how the US should be using metric measures (liters, grams, meters, etc.) like the rest of the world! Well, we can’t control that, but we know that kids need to learn metric measures, too—and luckily, Brick Math also includes lessons on metric measures. So the Brick Math Lesson of the Month for November 2020 is about modeling and converting metric measures and is taken from Basic Measurement Using LEGO® Bricks. To get the November 2020 lesson, and a new lesson each month, sign up here. The lesson starts with the Teaching Guide. It begins by showing how to model the metric system with bricks, using a 1x3 brick as the base unit (liter, gram, meter) and 1x1 bricks to model the tenfold increases or decreases from the base unit. The model includes the vocabulary you need to talk about the metric system (Kilo, Hecto, Deka, Deci, Centi and Milli). Then, using the model, students learn how to convert from one metric value to another: in this lesson, from the base unit of meters to centimeters (1/100). You can use this method to convert any metric values. Pages from the Student Workbook are included after the Teacher’s section. Have your student work along with you using these pages to draw their brick models and answer questions about the lesson. It’s important for elementary students to get comfortable with the metric system, even if we here in the US don’t use it in our everyday lives. Students will soon encounter the metric system as they move forward in math, so building a strong foundation (with bricks, of course!) for understanding the metric system is key, typically in grades 2 – 4. Brick Math is a K6 math curriculum that uses LEGO® bricks to model 11 different math subjects: Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Basic Fractions, Basic Measurement, Fraction Multiplication, Fraction Division, Advanced Measurement and Geometry, and Decimals. It works well for homeschooling, math intervention, enrichment, and as a wholeschool program. Materials are simple and are not shared between students. It adapts easily to online instruction. If you teach math or have a student at home who is learning math, check brickmath.com. The website includes videos for both teacher training and direct instruction of students. You can learn more about how Brick Math improves student math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program. It’s been well established that fractions are tough for many students to learn. And it’s also clear that fractions are a very important building block for learning the higherlevel math that follows, including decimals, ratios, and algebra. So we need a learning system that helps students achieve a deep understanding of fractions, not simply a regurgitation of some formulas or tricks. Luckily, Brick Math: Teaching Math Using LEGO Bricks includes techniques that really work when teaching students what fractions are all about. Here are four ways you can make it easier to learn fractions (all the illustrations and techniques here are from Brick Math's Basic Fractions Using LEGO Bricks–Teacher Edition): 1. Math is conceptual, so a student first needs to understand the idea of a fraction. The best way to learn that is by providing a visual presentation of a fraction. Brick Math, which teaches math using LEGO bricks as the modeling tool, is the perfect way to show what fractions are. A 1x1 brick next to a 1x2 brick clearly represents a fraction of 1/2. A LEGO brick with 2 studs next to a brick with 4 studs? Clearly showing 2/4. A fourstud brick next to an 8stud brick models 4/8 without question. The studs on a brick are easy to count, even for young learners, and there is no mistaking the fraction that the bricks are showing. 2. Fractions refer to parts of a whole, but the whole must be defined clearly to understand the size of the fraction. The techniques used in Brick Math work well to clarify the concept of the whole. If the whole is 8, the brick that represents ½ of that whole has 4 studs. But if the whole is 6, the brick that represents ½ of that whole has 3 studs. LEGO bricks demonstrate this idea clearly. 3. Adding and subtracting fractions relies on students’ knowledge of multiplication. To find a common denominator, a student must have memorized multiplication tables to understand the idea of factors. That’s a hurdle many students have trouble with. But factors are easy to show with Brick Math. Students discover factors for themselves by manipulating the bricks. The illustration here shows all the factors of 8 in a way that students can immediately grasp (8, 4, 2, and 1). 4. It can be hard to understand how to put fractions in order. What’s bigger: 2/3 or ¾? That question becomes easy to answer using the Brick Math technique called the “fraction train.” That’s a way of modeling equivalent fractions with common denominators to visually demonstrate which fraction is larger. (Spoiler alert: ¾ is larger, because it is equivalent to 9/12, while 2/3 is equivalent to 8/12.) There’s so much that’s hard about learning fractions. Brick Math makes the learning process easier so students can develop deep understanding of the math. That’s the key to future math success. Brick Math is a K6 math curriculum that works for all students, whether they are in a classroom or learning at home oneonone. If you have a student at home who is learning math, check brickmath.com. The website includes videos for both teacher/parent training and direct instruction of students. You can learn more about how Brick Math improves student math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program. If you are a teacher, check brickmath.com to learn how the curriculum can work in your classroom, whether it's in person, virtual, or hybrid. Brick Math is a K6 math curriculum that uses LEGO® bricks to model 11 different math subjects: Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Basic Fractions, Basic Measurement, Fraction Multiplication, Fraction Division, Advanced Measurement and Geometry, and Decimals. It works well for math intervention, for enrichment, and as a wholeschool program. Materials are simple and need not be shared between students. It adapts easily to online instruction. Contact us with any questions. This month's free Brick Math lesson is about Customary Liquid Measures  the ones that are used in the United States (i.e., NOT metric system). Taken from the Teacher and Student Editions of Basic Measurement Using LEGO® Bricks, the lesson is the perfect way to show young learners the relationship between gallons, quarts, pints, and cups. The lesson uses different sizes of bricks to represent the four different liquid measures. Once students know what each brick represents, then they compare the bricks next to each other to determine how many of a smaller measure equals a larger one. Like all the lessons in Brick Math, it's a straightforward, clear way for students to quickly grasp the concepts being taught. And, like the whole Brick Math program, it's easy to teach and fun to learn! To get the October 2020 lesson, and all the lessons that follow each month, sign up here. Brick Math is a K6 math curriculum that uses LEGO® bricks to model 11 different math subjects: Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Basic Fractions, Basic Measurement, Fraction Multiplication, Fraction Division, Advanced Measurement and Geometry, and Decimals. It works well for homeschooling, math intervention, enrichment, and as a wholeschool program. Materials are simple and are not shared between students. It adapts easily to online instruction. If you teach math or have a student at home who is learning math, check brickmath.com. The website includes videos for both teacher training and direct instruction of students. You can learn more about how Brick Math improves student math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program. It’s easy to adapt a program used in schools to create a homeschool curriculum that works well for your kids. Here are five tips for teaching a new curriculum when you're starting to homeschool. 1. Watch an expert to see how the program is taught. Now that you’re the teacher, it will really help to learn the important terms to include and see the lesson in action. Brick Math has lots of video lessons for you and your child to watch, all taught by the author of the program, Dr. Shirley Disseler (aka “Dr. D”). 2. Read through the whole lesson before you start teaching it. (This is the same advice that cookbook authors give about reading through the whole recipe before you start cooking!) It’s critical that YOU understand what you’re teaching before you start. With math, that’s key. Most of us learned math in a very different way than we would teach it today. Make sure the whole lesson “makes sense” to you before you begin working with your child. Each Brick Math lesson is stepbystep, so as you read it, you can feel comfortable with each step along the way. 3. Gather all the materials you need for the lesson before you start. You don’t want to lose momentum by having to stop and search for pencils, paper, or manipulatives. When you and your kids are ready to learn, you want to take full advantage of the time you have! At the beginning of each chapter in every Brick Math book there is a list of the LEGO bricks and baseplate needed to teach the lessons in that chapter, so make sure you have those, either from your personal stash of LEGO bricks, or from the Brick Math brick set. Your student will draw models and answer questions in the student books. All you need to add are pencils or markers, and you’re ready to go. 4. Take as much time as your child needs to complete a lesson. One of the best features of homeschooling is that kids work at their own pace, not at the pace of a whole class full of students. Check as you go along to be sure that your child really understands the material every step of the way. The Brick Math program includes regular checkins with the student, and assessments for each chapter that give you confidence that your child has learned the math. 5. Make it fun! Many homeschooling parents are proud to talk about how much their children enjoy learning through the creativity of their programs. And what’s a more fun way to learn math than building with LEGO bricks? Students everywhere tell us how much fun they have learning math this way. Teachers have told us that sometimes their students ask to “keep doing Brick Math” rather than have recess! Brick Math is a K6 math curriculum that works for all students, whether they are in a classroom or learning at home oneonone. If you have a student at home who is learning math, check brickmath.com. The website includes videos for both teacher/parent training and direct instruction of students. You can learn more about how Brick Math improves student math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program. Brick Math is a K6 math curriculum that uses LEGO® bricks to model 11 different math subjects: Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Basic Fractions, Basic Measurement, Fraction Multiplication, Fraction Division, Advanced Measurement and Geometry, and Decimals. It works well for math intervention, for enrichment, and as a wholeschool program. Materials are simple and need not be shared between students. It adapts easily to online instruction. Contact us with any questions. I recently had a customer tell me that her son didn’t understand the idea of factors until she tried Brick Math. When he saw the concept of factors made real with LEGO bricks, she said, he knew what they were! It’s exciting to hear when students finally “get it” because modeling with bricks makes all the difference for them. I started to think about that lesson on factors, and I realized it is the perfect way to demonstrate the power of Brick Math as a learning system. Here’s why Brick Math works so well to teach elementary math: it’s tactile (kids touch the bricks and build the models themselves), it’s visual (kids can see exactly what the numbers in a math problem represent), and it’s conceptual (kids understand the underlying idea behind the math when they discover it for themselves in a guided program). Let me show you how Brick Math works with that lesson on factors: This lesson models all the factors of 16 and demonstrates perfectly the meaning of “factor." Like all Brick Math lessons, it starts with some basic bricks and a baseplate to build on. Begin by placing one brick that has 16 studs on the baseplate (studs are the bumps on LEGO bricks). This can be a 2x8 brick or a 1x16 brick.The model shows 1 brick with 16 studs, so the multiplication fact shown is 1 x 16 = 16. 16 and 1 are factors of 16. Next, take two bricks that each have 8 studs and place them next to the brick that’s already on the baseplate. It’s best if those two bricks are two different colors. You’ll use either two 2x4 bricks or two 1x8 bricks. Now the model shows 2 (bricks) x 8 (studs) = 16, and that 2 and 8 are also factors of 16. Now, here’s where the Brick Math program really becomes a powerful learning tool. For the next step, ask the student, “Are there 3 bricks that are all the same size that you can use to build the next row?” Let your students try with different bricks. They will demonstrate to themselves that there are none, so 3 can’t be a factor of 16. It’s so important that students discover for themselves while they are learning. That’s what helps them internalize what the math is all about. When they move on to looking for 4 bricks, they’ll find that four 2x2 bricks or 1x4 bricks do the trick. Now, they have 4 (bricks) x 4 (studs) = 16, so 4 is another factor of 16. Have them look again for 5, 6, and 7 bricks that work in the model. They’ll quickly figure out that none of those numbers are factors of 16. They’ll move on to modeling eight 1x2 bricks, with the multiplication fact of 8 x 2 = 16. Finally, they can add sixteen 1x1 bricks to the model to complete all the factors with the multiplication fact of 16 x 1 = 16. When you look at the final model and count the number of bricks, the final model clearly shows the factors of 16: 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16. Dr. Shirley Disseler, developer of the Brick Math method, demonstrates this same lesson in the video below. The concept of factors is key to learning multiplication, division, and fractions, so it’s in all three of the Brick Math books on those subjects: Multiplication, Division, and Basic Fractions. And it (almost) goes without saying: students have fun while they learn! If you teach math or have a student at home who is learning math, check brickmath.com. The website includes videos for both teacher training and direct instruction of students. You can learn more about how Brick Math improves student math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program.
Brick Math is a K6 math curriculum that uses LEGO® bricks to model 11 different math subjects: Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Basic Fractions, Basic Measurement, Fraction Multiplication, Fraction Division, Advanced Measurement and Geometry, and Decimals. It works well for math intervention, for enrichment, and as a wholeschool program. Materials are simple and need not be shared between students. It adapts easily to online instruction. Contact us with any questions. Whether you're back to school in person or online, or some combination of the two, this free Brick Math Lesson of the Month is a great way to help students learn math. For September, it's a lesson from Fraction Multiplication Using LEGO® Bricks that shows how the commutative property works when multiplying fractions. Students typically learn about multiplying fractions in grades 4  6, but it is sometimes part of the curriculum when students are learning about fractions in grades 2  3. To get the free Lesson of the Month for September 2020, click here. Students should already understand that a x b = b x a (see Multiplication Using LEGO® Bricks, chapter 5). Now it's time for them to learn that the same commutative property holds when multiplying fractions. This lesson makes it clear to students by using bricks one way to model 1/2 x 6, and a different way to model 6 x 1/2. In both cases, the answer, 3, is the same. This lesson also shows how the two number sentences are used to describe different reallife situations: 1/2 x 6 means "onehalf of six," while 6 x 1/2 means "six sets of onehalf." So in reallife usage, 1/2 x 6 could describe "half of the six crayons in the box, or three crayons." And 6 x 1/2 could describe "six halfpizzas, or three whole pizzas." Using bricks to model these two scenarios really helps students understand the math. Brick Math is a K6 math curriculum that uses LEGO® bricks to model 11 different math subjects: Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Basic Fractions, Basic Measurement, Fraction Multiplication, Fraction Division, Advanced Measurement and Geometry, and Decimals. It works well for math intervention, for enrichment, and as a wholeschool program. Materials are simple and are not shared between students. It adapts easily to online instruction. If you teach math or have a student at home who is learning math, check brickmath.com. The website includes videos for both teacher training and direct instruction of students. You can learn more about how Brick Math improves student math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program. Math is such a foundational subject in elementary school, it’s important to understand how kids learn math during the K  6 years. The way that they are taught really makes a difference in determining whether a student will truly understand the math. Flash cards, worksheets, and memorization are not strategies for teaching kids to develop true math comprehension. Instead, students need to learn math in ways to help them grasp what math is all about, so that they are prepared for all the STEM subjects as they progress through school. Let's look at five of the most important factors that contribute to young kids’ success with math in the elementary school years:
1. Building confidence with math Students need to feel confident that they can learn math. You never want to hear a child say, “I’m just not good at math.” Students need to have teachers and parents encourage what’s called a “growth mindset.” Here’s the idea: the student hasn’t learned the math…YET. But they will! Brick Math was created to encourage students to build confidence in their math abilities. The program uses LEGO bricks to model K  6th grade math. Kids love LEGO bricks, so they enjoy learning with Brick Math, and develop confidence in their math knowledge. 2. Learning with handson materials Learning elementary math is, by definition, handson. Kids sort, compare, measure, count objects, see patterns, and make shapes. In everyday life, math activities are all around us when we bake a cake, build a birdhouse, or even comparison shop at the supermarket. Brick Math is a handson program of learning that teaches elementary math using LEGO bricks to sort, compare, measure, count, create patterns, and build shapes. Through the process of modeling the math with bricks, kids learn 11 different math subjects in a handson program. 3. Talking about mathematical terms and ideas Students need to talk about math often as they learn in the early years. When they incorporate mathematical terms into their everyday discussion, it helps them see math as a key part of their lives, not something “extra” that is only a “school subject.” Brick Math includes math terms as part of the program, so students learn to use math terms appropriately as they learn the math. 4. Moving from concrete representation to abstract concepts Math learning starts with concrete knowledge and moves to abstract concepts. Students must learn how to represent math in writing with numbers and symbols. It’s a progression: first, students touch and see the math as they learn, but later, they talk and write about the math, using equations and number sentences. Brick Math makes this concretetoabstract learning seamless. The program starts with students building LEGO brick models of the math, and then students must explain why their model demonstrates the math concept, and they must represent the solutions in number sentences. 5. Becoming a problem solver Math is all about problem solving. It’s not simply rote memorization of math facts or formulas. When kids learn math, they search for answers, maybe make some mistakes, and try again. Knowing how to solve problems is a lifelong skill that extends far beyond math and is essential for 21stcentury jobs and challenges. The Brick Math methods develop students’ problem solving abilities. They use their creativity to find solutions to math problems by building models with bricks. Students quickly learn that there is often more than one way to discover the solution to a problem. If you teach math or have a student at home who is learning math, check brickmath.com. The website includes videos for both teacher training and direct instruction of students. You can learn more about how Brick Math improves student math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program. Brick Math is a K6 math curriculum that uses LEGO® bricks to model 11 different math subjects: Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Basic Fractions, Basic Measurement, Fraction Multiplication, Fraction Division, Advanced Measurement and Geometry, and Decimals. It works well for math intervention, for enrichment, and as a wholeschool program. Materials are simple and need not be shared between students. It adapts easily to online instruction. Contact us with any questions. We know that play is an important part of a child’s life. In fact, a number of eminent scholars from Jean Piaget to Maria Montessori are credited with originating the phrase, “Play is child’s work.” Kids gain so much knowledge about the world through their play activities. According to Susan MacKay, Director of Teaching and Learning for the Portland Children’s Museum, “Learning through play is about continuity; bringing together children’s spheres of lifehome, school, and the wider world over time and through experiences.” Now more than ever, when children’s social and emotional stressors have risen to an all time high, learning through play is key. Learning tools that engage children and link to the world of play add to student motivation. Brick Math uses a wellknown and beloved toy, LEGO® bricks, as a strategic tool for learning K6th grade math. According to Harvard University research (2016), play in the child’s learning environment enriches content understanding and retention of the material. The combination of learning and play helps students develop a deep understanding of the “why” and “how” behind math when they learn with Brick Math. An important idea in learning today is known as “constructionism.” Students construct their knowledge using real experience with materials. When then build their own knowledge, they learn in a deep and lasting way. Constructionism is at the heart of the Brick Math method. Students learn math by building models, discussing why they show the math, and drawing the brick models. It’s a powerful way to putting play back into learning content. Learning math with simple activities through play is one of the best ways for children to naturally develop a love for the subject. Brick Math combines learning with play to result in building a strong math foundation throughout the elementary years. 
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