Combining hands on problem solving with word problems and writing equations is fun when first graders learn math with Legos.
At the Harnett Primary School, first graders in Diane Fulton’s class solved a word problem to show how many berries had been picked out of 18 when only four were left on the bush, by picking the berries themselves from a Lego “bush”. They used Lego kits to create the bushes, and then worked out the problem. They wrote the equation with the correct answer on their iPads.
According to Principal Sylvia Wilkins, the lesson taught not only math, but higher level thinking, communication, technology, and teamwork.
“It’s awesome,” she said. “It’s all kind of embedded into the teaching.”
Harnett Primary was one of four schools in North Carolina that won. They used some of the money to buy Lego kits and lesson plans that were specific for first graders. The cost of ten kits is $1500, but includes enough materials for 15-18 students.
Fulton said that previously, math lessons were reading word problems and writing the equations. However, with the kids, students make visual and tactile representations of the problems.
“I think it’s made a big difference,” she said. “Students that struggled before doing it with pen and paper get it because it’s kind of a story and they can build it and go step by step. It’s not just abstract. They can see how the math problem works.”