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.
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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. 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. We’re all agreed that students must get a strong math foundation in elementary school if they are to go on with success in STEM fields in upper grades. It’s not about rote memorization of math facts or formulas anymore. The kids who grow up to become computer programmers, scientists, doctors, tech developers—they all get excited by math at an early age and gain a deep understanding of math principles early on. But students differ in their learning styles, and math programs differ in their methods. There are 5 keys to learning elementary math, though, that help students develop that true understanding of math that will carry through to later years. Brick Math uses these strategies in its program that teaches math using LEGO® bricks. It’s easy to teach and fun to learn. Get more information now. Here are five keys to learning math in the elementary school years: 1. Handson Math When young children can see and touch the math, they become far more engaged in learning. Kids are by nature tactile beings who learn by doing. The essence of Brick Math is handson: the program uses LEGO® bricks to model math in subjects that range from Counting, Addition, and Subtraction, through Multiplication, Division, and Fractions, to Measurement, Geometry, and Decimals. When students are able to manipulate the bricks themselves to build models of math problems, they enjoy learning. 2. Teacher Shows the Concept An important start to learning math is for the teacher to show the concept first, and explain it using correct terminology. This sets the students up for learning. In Brick Math, every chapter starts with “Part 1: Show Them How.” The lessons in Part 1 have the students working along with the teacher as he/she shows the math concepts. This works no matter where the students and teacher are physically—students can watch in person or online and work along with the lesson whether they are in the classroom or at home. 3. Students Work on the Concept Learned It’s important that students get practice with the math and quick teacher feedback. That’s how concepts get truly learned. Part 2 in each Brick Math chapter is “Show What You Know,” which gives students many opportunities to work on problems that build on what they have just learned. In the classroom or online, the teacher can review the model the student has built and offer immediate feedback to guide the student toward complete understanding. This is a teaching strategy that works well with elementaryage children: The teacher shows the new idea first, then the students show what they have learned. 4. Students Explain Their Thinking
When students are learning new math concepts, the way they are thinking about the math is critical in their understanding. A key learning strategy is for students to explain their thinking about their math answer in words. This way, the teacher can easily tell if the student is getting the concept. In the Brick Math program, students are frequently asked to explain their thinking, orally or in writing. When students must explain how they arrived at an answer, it’s clear whether or not they have really understood the math. 5. Connect Math to the Real World How many times has a student complained to a teacher, “I’ll never use this kind of math in real life!”? Math is abstract, and its importance to the world around us must be demonstrated regularly when kids are learning in elementary school. Math is far more meaningful when its use is shown through realworld examples. Brick Math includes many problems that show how math is used in everyday life, including the relationship of decimals to money, the measurement of area and perimeter when building a playground, and the division of a pizza to feed a group of people. When students learn early on that math is useful in many common situations, they get comfortable with math in a natural way. That’s the start of a long and happy relationship with math! 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. Area is the subject of the July 2020 Brick Math Lesson of the Month—specifically, helping students discover the formula for area using LEGO® bricks as the manipulative. It's from the Brick Math Teacher and Student Editions of Advanced Measurement and Geometry Using LEGO® Bricks. To get the free Lesson of the Month, click HERE. As you read through the teacher lesson guide in the first three pages of the Lesson of the Month, you'll see that the teacher is not simply telling students the formula for the area of a rectangle. Instead, the teacher and students model a 6x8stud rectangle with LEGO® bricks and together discuss the attributes of the shape and the two dimensions of rectangles. Students are led to understand the formula L x W = A through the process of modeling the rectangle, then drawing their model and labeling it to correspond with the formula. In this Lesson of the Month, the pages from the student workbook, with questions to answer and space for drawing the models, follow the teacher lesson guide pages. As with all the lessons in Brick Math, this one builds deep understanding of the underlying mathematical principles. The handson nature of the lesson encourages the process of math discovery, which helps students learn far beyond rote memorization of a formula. 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. For more information about Brick 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. Contact us with any questions. 
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