Constructionism and instructionism are modern day educational approaches that educators around the world are talking about. Instructionism refers to the ideology that for better education one must improve instruction. Constructionism focuses on giving children good things to do with an aim that they can learn better by doing.
Relying on Tools for Effective Constructionism
Modern day learning tools and education toys are extremely rich in offering to children a chance to do as they learn concepts. Within STEM skills, these tools allow them to learn math and science as a part of something that is real. For instance, learning math at school is very unlike how math is used in the real world. Out in the world engineers, scientists and bankers are using math to build bridges, understand how the world around works and to make money.
Within a classroom, however, children seldom make something with math. They simply sit in class and write numbers on a board or a piece of paper. With tools such as LEGO, educators can give children a chance to use math to actually create something interesting. With LEGO, it is possible to change a child’s relationship with math to make it more like the one a banker, scientist or engineer has with the subject.
LEGO in the Classroom
Students and adults of all ages absolutely enjoy playing with LEGO. While many think of them as play, these coloured plastic blocks offer fantastic support for learning. Here are a few activities that you could introduce in your class room for enhanced Math learning. We hope these will get you thinking about many more ways to introduce math concepts to little children across all ages.
- Subtraction Tower (For Grade 1)
To play this game, all you need is the LEGO DUPLO set or the classic blocks along with a die. Have every player build a tower with 10 LEGO bricks. Depending on how advanced the class is, you may choose to use more or less bricks for the tower. Also, this game is perfect for a large group of students who are about the same age and have the same ability level. Have each player roll the die and take that many LEGO bricks off their tower. Ask the class to take turns rolling the die and removing the blocks until there are none left. The student to unstack their tower first is the winner.
This is a great activity for students to understand math through play. Ask them to speak out the math equation or elaborate to you the reason behind why they are removing X number of bricks. For instance, if a student with 10 bricks rolls a 3, ask him to say “10-3=7” or “I had 10 LEGO bricks, I had to take off 3 and now I have 7 in my tower.
- LEGO is a great way to introduce multiplication in very hands on manner, making learning more conceptual rather than only memorization.Children count the studs on LEGO bricks to figure out the multiplication equation. For example, a standard LEGO break with 8 studs, is actually 4 across, and 2 down, making it 4×2=8. Similarly, using two LEGO bricks one has 4×4=16, or if placed differently 8×2=16.
- Fractions (Grade 3 through 8)
- LEGO bricks are great manipulatives and an excellent tool to review a variety of math concepts. Students often find the concept of fractions rather challenging to understand. LEGO bricks help physically elaborate the difference between a whole and its part.This idea can eventually be expanded to aid students practice additions of fractions.
Some classroom management tips
- Prepare LEGO sets in advance for each child to use before the session. Have assorted coloured bricks in each bag, to avoid quibbles for specific brick colours.
- Have each student use the same set during each class. This will give the student ownership of the material.
- Provide lids with edges for children to work on so that LEGO bricks don’t fall off the table. Alternatively, work on the floor.
As educators, it is upon to find tools that enable children to use the knowledge they learn and not just store it in their brains because it may be useful several years down the line. We all like to learn concepts because we can use what we have learned as a form of instant gratification. Introducing LEGO in the classroom helps achieve just that.