LEGO Archives - The Curiosity Club

January 24, 2018

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.

The Subtraction Tower

  • Multiplication
  • 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.

Learning fractions with LEGO

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.

January 10, 2018

LEGO has been widely adopted in households with children for decades now, primarily acting as a creative outlet for children during their hours spent at home. From an academic context, parents are most familiar with LEGO only because of the largescale competitions that take place at a high school level or in an engineering program at college levels. Few people know that these building blocks can even play a significant role in early learning and elementary schools.

How Can Schools Incorporate LEGO-based Learning into Teaching Approaches?

In addition to offering a chance to manipulate the colours, structures and sizes of these blocks, LEGO comes with the ability to engage the creative brain. From a teaching perspective, it opens doors to exceptional instructional capabilities that facilitate effective teaching of concepts for children under 12. Consider some of the common learning objectives educators need to achieve for this age group –

  • Spatial Reasoning and Building

From the ages 3 and up, one of the most critical skills that children are expected to master is spatial reasoning. This skill helps students familiarize themselves with context, height, width and eventually learn how to recreate relatively complex models. LEGO allows for creative reinforcement of these skills that eventually form a foundation for their STEM skills.

  • Building Blocks for STEM Skills

From the basic DUPLO blocks to the more complex robotic sets for older students, LEGO helps create a foundation for enhanced understanding of concepts in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). By advancing a student’s spatial and motor skills, construction toys help in creating a strong foundation for advanced concepts in engineering and architecture.

Beyond elementary level education, LEGO robotics sets act as a great tool to introduce the basics in coding and programming to middle school students. These skills are increasingly critical in today’s digital world. Furthermore, LEGO based learning facilitates three-dimensional thinking, that is critical to understand a variety of concepts in science.

  • Introducing Concepts in Math in the Classroom
  • Mathematics is often perceived as dreary by students right from an elementary level. LEGO is an excellent tool for educators who are combating this problem. While studies have shown that earlier introduction to concepts in math may not necessarily make them easier to grasp as a child grows, LEGO bricks on the other hand provide students with some context and subsequently a chance to manipulate and truly understand the nature of addition, subtraction, geometry and other math skills that are otherwise difficult to grasp using solely a blackboard.Educators can rely on structured building with LEGO sets that allows students to learn sorting skills – a rather simple but extremely valuable skill in math. Educators often find that students tend to perform far better when they have something to manipulate when a specific concept is being introduced. LEGO offers a chance to work hands-on with material. For instance, creating pattern games with two colour blocks, then three and then four. The complexity of the pattern goes up with the child’s age. By performing simple tasks such as addition and subtraction of blocks from a structure, students can experience first-hand, the real-world applications of various math skills while also providing for them a point of reference when they are expected to solve these math problems in writing.

  • Language Development
  • Studies show that speech and language skills are best developed in a learning environment that is rich with sights, sounds and consistent exposure to verbal inputs. Imagine a classroom where a child is given tools to create a perfect situation that not only fires up his or her imagination, but also encourages them to tell stories.  With LEGO bricks, a child is able to plan anything from an intergalactic battle to trip to a shopping mall with the LEGO Friends sets. The LEGO Education Story Starter and Story Tales set are designed to help children understand how to create and structure stories with a beginning, a body and the end, while having fun with bricks.Educators today are relying on LEGO blocks to introduce a world of concepts such as alphabets, transportation, habitats, animals, lifecycles, etc. By allowing kids to build their own alphabets with LEGO, create animals such as giraffes or even frogs, they can translate learning into models, eventually building their vocabulary and memorizing concepts better. Along the way, they pick up on interesting facts, for instance, that a giraffe has a blue tongue, while having simultaneous visual stimulus to support these learnings.

  • Making your Students Successful Problem Solvers While one may argue that the structured play attached to following the directions of a LEGO set doesn’t truly encourage creativity, what it truly does is help develop impeccable problem-solving skills. There is sufficient scope for teachers and students to manipulate the ready sets and model instructions to add newer layers of innovation in their creations.Teachers find it valuable to coach students to find ways through trial and error in finding the right blocks to construct a specific object or shape. These activities in school environments can help students learn how to work through problems and arrive at a solution, or sometimes even alternative solutions.Encouraging the building of creations to specific instructions helps create a collaborative approach to problem solving, which is without doubt a critical skill to inculcate for academic as well as professional success in the future.Finally, the universal popularity of LEGO among boys and girls makes it a central gathering point in any class room, contributing to the enhancement of various social skills such as language and collaborative play. The social skills that LEGO help develop are critical to the future educational success of a child right from kindergarten and through life.

February 23, 2017

For over 75 years LEGO has provided immense entertainment to children (and adults) all over the world. From simple stackable bricks, the company has grown into an educational toy provider, giving its fans the opportunity to learn while they play. The development of special parts such as slopes, eyes, wheels, propellers and windows have brought the creations to life.

For a moment, let’s go back to the simple four by two and two by two bricks. In one session we gave children these bricks to build dinosaurs, and in other to build forest animals; the results were amazing. Although resistant and unsure at first, the children eventually figured out how best to use the square and rectangle blocks to create animals that have rounded shapes. The giraffe and the brontosaurus looked the same, but does that really matter?! We often overlook the imagination and creativity of the child in our search for perfection. The children translated their understandings into three dimensional objects. After all, both the giraffe and the brontosaurus are four-legged herbivores with long necks that enable them to reach the top of trees for food. In the mind of the child one was a dinosaur and the other a giraffe, even though the LEGO versions looked the same. The translation of knowledge into action reinforces the concept of animal physiology.

Similarly, building a volcano with a vent for baking soda and vinegar “eruption,” helped the child translate the book learning of a volcano structure into a three-dimensional, physical one. This indirect learning makes it more enjoyable for the child and increases retention of concepts.

As children get older, so do the complexities of science concepts and the objects they can make. When we introduced bridges and structures to five year olds, we saw only beam bridges. It’s the simplest and most popular kind, but the kids didn’t know the technicalities of this type. Their bridges were functional – some where cars went over the bridge, and some where cars could go under as well.

The same activity with older children, however, was more defined. It wasn’t just a bridge over water anymore; it was a suspension bridge like the Golden Gate Bridge or a steel arch bridge like the Sydney harbour bridge. Building bridges doesn’t make children civil engineers, but it allows children to start learning concepts at a young age, and defining them as they grow older. Building them with their own hands helps reinforce concepts and designs.

We’ve been talking about STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) concepts all this while, but why is it really that important? We are surrounded by STEM every day, all the time – how we breathe, the food we eat, the mobiles we use, the cars we drive, the pets we take care of, trains, planes, animals, plants, rollercoasters, bridges, towers, storms, earthquakes, – all STEM. To put it very simply, we are learning about how the world works.

“In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.” (National Science Foundation)

When we combine the all-time-favourite LEGO with STEM, we have the perfect recipe for learning!