Learn maths the fun way with Lego! Much has been said about the benefits of Lego – great for building, following instructions, extending the child’s imagination, fine motor skills and the list goes on. But we decided to take this a step further by incorporating math concepts into Lego play. So here is a list of 10 Lego math activities for preschoolers…
10 Lego Math Activities for Preschoolers by Kidz Activities:
1. Measuring with Lego bricks
Young preschoolers, and even toddlers as young as 2 years old, love stacking Lego bricks on top of each other to form ‘towers.’ Encourage them to stack them up and ‘measure’ objects according to ‘Lego bricks.’ Ask them questions like:
- How ‘long’ is this DVD? (a preschooler’s answer would be: 10 Lego bricks long)
- Which object is shorter?
- How many ‘Lego bricks’ long is the car?
- To take it further: By how much longer is the DVD compared to the car? (5 Lego bricks). And without knowing it, you have just introduced your preschooler to the concept of subtraction and problem solving.
2. Basic counting through the Lego dice game
This activity was inspired by Planning with Kids. In this Lego math activity, my preschooler rolls the dice. Counting the dots on the dice alone practices his counting skills. Then ask him to build a Lego tower according to the number of dots on his dice. On my turn, I do the same. And on his next turn, he builds on top of his existing tower. When all the Lego bricks are used up, the player with the tallest tower wins. While this game encourages counting skills, I also ask these questions from time to time:
- Whose tower is taller?
- How many Lego bricks in total are in mummy’s tower now?
- And to take it further: How many Lego bricks does mummy need so that my tower will be as tall as yours? This visually teaches them the concept of subtraction and problem solving.
- And to take it even further: Use 2 dice to encourage adding the dots between the 2 dice. You will need a lot more Lego bricks if you decide to do this.
3. Building patterns with Lego
Forming patterns is one of those Lego math activities that we try to do most often. Why? Here’s a short excerpt from Math Rise on the importance of Patterns:
“Out of all mental skills, pattern recognition is said to have the highest correlation with general intelligence. Pattern recognition is the ability to recognize order in a chaos. Patterns can be found in ideas, words, symbols, numbers, and images. They can also be found in behavior, routines, and in nature.
The ability to recognize, identify, and create patterns not only supports mathematical learning, it also contributes to broader social development. By understanding patterns, children are able to make predictions about what should come next…. Nearly every desirable occupation requires pattern recognition skills. Doctors often read patient histories and charts to make diagnosis and prescribe treatments, attorneys study case histories before they present their case, analysts study data to predict future price movements, and salespeople use patterns to sell products.”
Patterns could be done according to size or color, laid out horizontally as in the first photo above, or by building patterns on a tower, as shown on the second photo above. The possibilities are endless with Lego and patterns. Older preschoolers could even make their own patterns as they go. Or mum/dad could make a more complicated pattern and ask which brick comes next in the pattern.
4. Sorting by colors and size
This Lego math activity is easy enough for toddlers to do. Simply let him/her sort through a pile of Lego bricks according to color. Then maybe the next week, let your child sort them out according to size.
By sorting, your preschooler learns that certain things are alike and different. It encourages them to apply logical thinking, as they figure out how certain things can be organized into certain groups. This pre-math skill helps them with numerical concepts and grouping numbers and sets when they are older.
5. Basic fractions
The concept of one whole, halves and quarters can be taught to preschoolers using Lego. Ask questions such as:
- Can you find me a Lego brick that is half this size?
- If I have 2 halves, what does that make?
- If we are making a wall and have ran out of whole pieces, I ask: Do you think these 2 halves can be used to build your wall too?
- How many of these small bricks (quarter sized ones indicated in the photo above) do I need to make a brick this long (referring to the whole brick in the photo above)?
6. Greater than or less than towers
Encourage your preschooler to count the Lego bricks on each tower. You can also print out numbers or take the numbers from another game (which we did), so that your child can match the tower with the corresponding number symbol, as we did in the photo above. This helps your preschooler with number recognition. Ask questions like:
- Which tower is taller?
- Which tower has less Lego bricks?
- Which number is bigger – 7 or 3?
7. Size Sequencing
Provide your preschooler with various sized Lego bricks. Ask him/her to put these in order according to size. This teaches your child simple sequencing, as s/he compares various sizes and creates a logical order for the Lego pieces.
8. Number Patterns
Stack up the number of Lego bricks corresponding to the numerical symbol in front of it. And then let your child stack the last tower.
- How many bricks do you need for the last tower?
- To take this further: Count by 2s or 5s, or do skip counting. This allows them to figure out number patterns and number recognition.
9. Problem Solving
Create an undone rectangle – or any other shape your Lego pieces will allow you to make. Smaller Lego pieces will allow you to make hexagons and octagons. Provide a bunch of Lego bricks in various sizes. And ask your preschooler to complete the rectangle by choosing among the various sizes of Lego pieces available. The answer could be outright: one of the bricks. Or he can use 2, 3 or more bricks to solve the problem.
Create an addition problem for your preschooler by stacking 2 Lego brick towers. If you have them, use number symbols and place them in front of their corresponding towers, to facilitate number recognition. Ask your child to count the sum of both towers and create a tower indicating this sum (7 Lego bricks as in the photo above).
These are just some of the Lego math activities we do with our kids. Do you have other Lego math activities you could share with us? We’d love to hear from you.