Whether you are a longtime LEGO® fanatic or new to the wonders of the plastic brick, it’s not hard to understand how well LEGO bricks work as a tool to teach fractions. The bricks can easily show concepts of benchmark fractions (½, ¼, 1/8, etc.), and since many students are familiar with them as a toy, they really enjoy using them in math class.
Brick Math’s Basic Fractions Teacher Edition has a full curriculum for teaching fractions using LEGO® bricks. It starts with activities to answer the question “What is a fraction?” and moves through all the fraction topics – benchmark fractions, adding and subtracting fractions, factors, equivalent fractions, finding common denominators, and mixed numbers.
Benchmark fractions (½, ¼, 1/8, ¾) are important for students to learn early on in their exploration of fractions. These are fractions they will see often, and understanding their value will help them make estimates in real-life situations. Benchmark fractions will also help students recognize that fractions are made from different-sized wholes. This is key to understanding fractions.
Here’s how to teach benchmark fractions using the Brick Math technique:
1. Start by placing a 2x4 LEGO® brick on a baseplate to represent the whole. Make sure students know that because there are 8 studs on this brick, it represents the whole of 8, and that is the denominator of the fraction.
2. Have students find a brick that shows ½ of this whole. Have them look for two bricks that are the same size and together take up the same space as the whole 2x4 brick when placed together. They should find either two 2x2 bricks or two 1x4 bricks. Explain that one of these bricks represents ½.
The 1x4 or 2x2 brick has 4 studs, so the brick shows the numerator 4 of the fraction modeled here – 4/8 (or ½).
3. Ask students to find ¼ of the whole of 8 in the same way, with four bricks that take up the same space as the 2x4 brick. They should find four 1x2 bricks, and understand that one of these bricks shows ¼. With 2 studs on this brick, it models the numerator of the fraction 2/8 (or ¼).
4. Have students do the same process to find the brick that represents 1/8.
Then have students place these benchmark fractions bricks next to each other, to show the whole, ½, ¼, and 1/8 – and that each fraction is half of the one preceding it.
5. To show ¾, have students look for the brick that shows ¼, then find three of them and put them next to the whole. See if your students make the connection to the 6 studs on these bricks as the numerator of the fraction 6/8. They’ll do this by showing that the three ¼ bricks are equivalent to one 2x3 brick.
Brick Math is a complete K – 6 curriculum that uses LEGO® bricks to teach math. Besides Basic Fractions, Brick Math topics include: Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Basic Measurement, Fraction Multiplication, Fraction Division, Advanced Measurement and Geometry, and Decimals.
Try Brick Math with your students with a FREE Brick Math lesson every month! You'll be able to download a PDF that includes the teacher instructions for a lesson, plus the student pages that go along with the lesson. It's a great way to test out the Brick Math program with your students. Once you've signed up, you'll receive a new Brick Math lesson every month.
Click here to sign up now for the monthly free lesson plans and student pages to build your Brick Math library!
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We hear from teachers all the time who tell us that Brick Math is very effective for their students who weren’t learning math through the established school curriculum. Often the reason is because the Brick Math methodology appeals to all kinds of learners.
Obviously, kinesthetic learners take to Brick Math because they can manipulate the bricks, and actually touch the math content. Auditory learners learn from Brick Math through the process of explaining in words why their models show the math. Visual learners enjoy the highly visual nature of brick models, both through seeing completed models and through building and drawing their own models. And reading/writing learners respond particularly well to the component of the program that asks students to explain their thinking in writing.
When Brick Math was being developed, author Dr. Shirley Disseler recognized the creative nature of the program. Often there is not just one right way to model a problem, but a variety. She continues to be surprised by new ways that students find to use the bricks to explain the underlying math concepts.
The flexibility of Brick Math for all types of learners helps many students find success with math!
Happy holidays to all! Here's our present to you: A brand-new Brick Math Lesson of the Month!
For December, we have a lesson from Addition Using LEGO® Bricks. The lesson helps students learn two important concepts:
1. How to model place values with bricks
2. How to model addition using those place value models
This is a great way to teach students about place values. The lesson models the ones with 1x1 bricks, the tens with 1x2 bricks, and the hundreds with 1x3 bricks. Once students understand how to model numbers using place values, it’s a short step to learning how to add using place values.
The lesson of the month gives the step-by-step lesson from the Teacher’s Edition first, and then shows the corresponding pages in the Student Edition that students will complete as they learn.
To receive this Lesson of the Month and be registered to get a new one every month, click here.
LEGO® bricks are a very versatile manipulative for math. In fact, Brick Math author Dr. Shirley Disseler has developed a method of teaching students to tell time using bricks!
The technique is called a “linear clock,” which models the numbers 1 through 12 with bricks. It works well to teach students how to tell time and how to find elapsed time. Baseplates are joined together to make the clock, and each stud on the baseplate models a five-minute increment.
Naturally, when using bricks to teach the concept of time, it’s important to also relate the linear clock to both an analog clock and a digital clock, so students learn how to tell time through conventional means.
Here’s an example of using bricks on the linear clock to show elapsed time (from Basic Measurement Using LEGO® Bricks):
Using the linear clock model, place a red 1x1 brick at 2:00 pm on the baseplate. Count forward 65 minutes, and mark the new time on the baseplate with another red 1x1 brick. What time is it now? Write a math sentence for your model.
Answer: The new time is 3:05 pm.
Math sentence: 2 hours + 65 minutes = 3 hours 5 minutes or 3:05 pm
The second edition of Basic Fractions Using LEGO® Bricks has just been published! This edition has even more ways to teach students about fractions than before.
The first edition of Teaching Fractions Using LEGO® Bricks was the very first book written in the 22-book Brick Math series. Author Dr. Shirley Disseler went back to this best-selling book and thought it was time for an update. The second edition has lots of new illustrations of the brick models as well as several new chapters with content that was not included in the original book. Here's what's new in this second edition:
Right now, until December 15, the Brick Math FREE Lesson of the Month is from the Basic Fractions book, and it shows how to teach students to compare and order fractions, using the fantastic "fraction train" method. To download the free lesson, click here.
What do you do when you want to try an innovative curriculum like Brick Math, but your school doesn’t have the budget for it? Look for a grant!
A number of orders for Brick Math curriculum and materials have been funded from grants. Many foundations that fund grants for educational programs, materials, and professional development target STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math).
Here’s a list of some grants you can apply for if you’re interested in funding for Brick Math:
And each state has its own grants; for example, this one in North Carolina:
Bright Ideas Educational Grants http://www.ncbrightideas.com/Home.aspx
Find grants in your state at this site: https://grantsalert.com/grants/
We’ll be happy to help you figure out what you need for your classroom or school when you’re writing your grant for Brick Math. Just contact email@example.com or call 802-751-8802.
Hi, Texas and California! Welcome to Brick Math!
The Brick Math phenomenon is spreading across the country. Brick Math is the exciting new program for teaching a complete K-6 curriculum using LEGO® bricks. School districts around the country are setting Brick Math up as an approved vendor.
Brick Math has recently become an approved vendor for the North East Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas, which also extends to the Judson, Northside, and San Antonio Independent School Districts. In the Houston area, Brick Math was approved as a vendor for the Aldine Independent School District, which also extends to more than 40 school districts in the Central Texas Purchasing Alliance (CTPA). Brick Math was also approved as a vendor for the Klein Independent School District in Klein, Texas, which is in the Houston area as well.
In California, we’ve recently become an approved vendor of the Compass Charter Schools, which provide online and home study school services for kids in that state, often serving child actors, athletes, and students from military families.
When a school or district wants to buy Brick Math, sometimes we need to become an approved vendor. This happens in a couple of ways:
If your school wants to purchase Brick Math but we aren’t part of your school or district’s approved vendor network yet, it’s easy for us to become part of that list. Just contact firstname.lastname@example.org and he’ll make that happen so your school can get started with Brick Math!
Brick Math is an approved vendor in a number of school districts in North Carolina, New Jersey, and South Carolina. We might already be approved in your district, too. If you're not sure, contact email@example.com to find out. We look forward to being approved as a vendor by many more school districts to help more students improve their math skills through Brick Math.
New research shows that Brick Math: Teaching Math Using LEGO® Bricks is very successful as an elementary math teaching tool. Two important findings emerged from this study:
1. Students make dramatic improvements in test scores
2. Students are highly engaged with the Brick Math method of learning
The research confirms that when students are engaged with the material, they are more likely to learn it fully. And students are fully engaged with the hands-on Brick Math program.
Here's what the study showed:
1,400 K-5 students in North Carolina and New Jersey were taught using Brick Math in these six content areas:
The results: Brick Math engages students fully, and it achieves powerful learning growth! Click here to read more about the results of studies of the Brick Math curriculum.