Studies show that up to 30 percent of people report moderate to high levels of math anxiety, according to author Malia Wollan in an article that appeared on March 27, 2022 in the New York Times.
Children as young as 6 can show signs of anxiety about math. Many adults (parent and teachers) make the mistake of telling children they are bad (or good) at math, which can increase the child’s apprehension about math.
One of the reasons students become anxious about math is that math is taught in a high-pressure situation, often by teachers who are uneasy about their own math skills.
The Brick Math program can help reduce students’ math anxiety. Students “see” the math by building models with LEGO® or LEGO-compatible bricks. They engage with the math by drawing solutions to math problems and by explaining the process they used in writing or orally. In this program, students use a wide variety of sensory skills that reinforce how to solve math problems.
Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and fractions come alive to students when they learn with LEGO® bricks.
The New York Times article recommends, “When you work on calculations with children, try to do so with curiosity, playfulness and a sense of adventure.” When math becomes fun, the student’s anxiety level decreases. That’s the power of Brick Math.
Brick Math is a K-6 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 for homeschooling, math intervention, enrichment, and as a whole-school program. Materials are simple and affordable.
If you teach math or have a student at home who is learning K - 6th grade 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 students' math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program.
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 life-home, 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 well-known and beloved toy, LEGO® bricks, as a strategic tool for learning K-6th 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.