What can you do with six eight-stud Lego bricks? Probably more than you think. For starters, you can create over 915 million combinations. More importantly, you can greatly improve a student’s ability to learn science, technology, engineering, math and literacy. Yes, literacy.
According to LEGO, children spend 5 billion hours a year immersed in creative play with a 50 year-old Danish concept derived from the words “leg godt”, meaning “play well.” They’re not only playing well, they’re building, designing, constructing, learning, and tapping into their inner imagination with colorful sets of bricks that haven’t changed over the years.
Perhaps no change was necessary. Research shows that Legos are more popular than ever and aren’t just used for informal play anymore.
Here are some ways teachers are using LEGOS in the classroom:
Building math education
It’s well-known that LEGOS stimulate STEM education by fostering engineering, collaboration and problem-solving skills. They also help teach basic math skills. Think parts and whole, number sense, fractions, and analyzing data, to name a few. One preparatory school in England, however, has become the first school in the world to actually teach five year-olds how to do math using LEGOS as its primary means of instruction. In conjunction with LEGO Education, Birchfield School in Shropshire built a LEGO Innovation Studio capitalizing on “MoreToMath”, a hands-on educational tool from LEGO that teaches problem-solving to First and Second Graders. The need was imminent, according to Headmaster Hugh Myott. “We are very focused on the requirement for key skills for the 21st century,” he said. “Problem-solving, collaborative work, and teamwork are all essential, and through the practical use of LEGO, it engages the students in this area. We have got to prepare young people for living the 21st century.”
Legos aren’t just limited to math and science. At Birchfield School and beyond, LEGOS are being used to inspire creativity, communication, and to build literacy. LEGO StoryStarter, intended for grades 2-5, helps to build kids’ imagination by creating their own narratives and retelling stories with sequence scenes. Students collaborate and build stories with bricks, then use LEGO software to photograph, write, and publish their stories. Don’t want to buy the system? Simple LEGO bricks can help teach literacy in the classroom:
- Spelling – write letters on the sides of bricks to connect and spell words.
- Matching – match same color bricks to beginning sounds, to rhyming, and to upper/lower case letters.
- Sentence building – write words on sides of bricks to build sentences and incorporate sight words.
- Phonemic Awareness – count syllables with bricks.
- Story starters – give the students the first sentence to a story. Have the students build the story with bricks, then write it.
Engineering science concepts
LEGOS play a foundational role in science in classrooms globally. French Engineer Mac Castéra created “Brickscientist,” a Netherlands-based educational workshop that travels all over the world to teach kids about science and engineering. When he took his workshop to some of the poorest children in India, Castéra asked students in Dehli to craft rockets, satellites, and astronomy with Legos. The results were telling. “They responded really well to the workshops, showing great interest in both the science and culture sessions,” he said. He also introduced programming with the LEGO Education WeDo Set. “The concept of the WeDo user programming interface also caught their attention, and it ended up being very much about self-learning. Soon they could reprogram the purpose-built plane, with me barely having to explain the concept.”
While LEGOS have remained a treasured toy among all ages, its educational benefits are superseding its entertainment value and have become building blocks for the future.
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