Awesome educator Alycia Zimmerman of New York City is using her students’ favorite plastic blocks to help them learn math skills. The third grade teacher has turned to LEGOs as a hands-on way for her kids to understand mathematical concepts like fractions and squares. Zimmerman combines the love of play with learning spatial and proportional awareness, making math a fun subject in her classroom.

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Zimmerman uses LEGO bricks in a variety of ways, to represent numerical combinations and problems. In her detailed, downloadable lesson plan from Scholastic, the innovative teacher explains breaking down math with LEGOs, having students count studs, different sized bricks, and the bricks themselves.

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One way to bring LEGOs into math is by teaching students part-part-total scenarios, using varying sized LEGOS to make up one large LEGO (for example, two 4 stud bricks or one 6 stud and one 2 stud brick to make up an 8 stud brick). Using LEGOs helps kids visualize these breakdowns, and fully understand the sum of parts.

Zimmerman also uses smaller pieces to help teach multiplication, allowing students to build “larger numbers,” with the visualization of counting the individual studs that make each brick up. Square numbers are simplified, asking kids to build new square shapes from individual blocks, then counting the studs. This process also rings true for division, allowing kids to visually see “wholes.” With Zimmerman’s easy lessons, kids can tackle math both in the classroom and at home, while playing with one of their favorite toys.

via Scholastic