Legos and Fractions: A Math Task Adventure
- Grades: 3–5
Understanding fractions is a main focus for fifth grade Common Core State Standards in math. Students must understand and master adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators. In order to grasp all of the skills leading up to this one concept, students use LEGO® bricks as models.
I was first introduced to this idea by one of my terrific teaching partners, Cathy Lachel. Lachel oversees the fifth grade math instruction for all of our students. Here is how Lachel put this lesson to work with our kids:
Prior to starting our fraction unit, I sent out a letter to parents asking for any spare LEGO bricks hanging around. I collected all donations and created small bags of the bricks for groups to access during exploration time.
As a teacher, you can get an understanding of LEGO fractions by watching this YouTube video. Using this knowledge you can successfully guide your students to grasping these concepts as well through exploration, conversations, and trial and error.
Once students are comfortable, and as a teacher you feel comfortable moving on, share the fraction task card with students. Allow for a variety of ways to show evidence for each task. Students can draw a picture or create a video, PowerPoint, or Educreation lesson — the more creative their evidence, the better.
Students explore, then work as a team to discover for themselves how they can use these LEGO bricks to represent the various concepts:
Adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators
Representing improper fractions and mixed numbers
Adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators
Monitor and review tasks with students that need your assistance. Challenge those that are ready to continue the tasks independently. Ask your class to put a spin on the finale and create a finale of their own. After the variety of tasks they will need to follow, students will become LEGO fraction experts.
The end result is more than just a clear understanding of fractions and operations. The end result is smiles on faces, the fun in creating math with hands-on tasks, and, mastering a concept. Fractions have never been so engaging!
Thank you Cathy for sharing!
For more ideas on how to use LEGO bricks as part of your math manipulative arsenal, check out fellow blogger and third grade teacher Alycia Zimmerman in her post, "Using LEGO to Build Math Concepts." How about you? Do you have a fun way to incorporate learning fractions into your classroom? I'd love to hear from you!