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.
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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. The Brick Math Lesson of the Month for August 2020 comes from Decimals Using LEGO® Bricks, Teacher and Student Editions. The lesson is a great way to demonstrate the relationship between decimals and fractions. To get the free Lesson of the Month, click HERE. The method using LEGO® bricks starts with building a 10 x 10 square that has 100 studs inside the square (this is called a "decimal grid"). Each of those 100 studs represents 1/100 (one hundredth), or 0.01, in decimal notation. Within the grid, 25 studs are placed to show 0.25, and then 50 more studs are placed within the grid to show the addition of 0.25 + 0.50. It’s easy to understand that the resulting 75 studs show both 0.75 as well as 75/100, since they cover 75 out of 100 studs in the grid. The physical nature of the Brick Math methods helps students clearly understand the underlying math. In this lesson, the relationship between decimals and fractions is obvious by looking at the model built with the bricks. As a student said, “Now I understand math. I can see it!” 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 are not shared between students. It adapts easily to online instruction. Contact us with any questions. 
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