The first time I realized that I was so caught up in doing things, “the way they were supposed to be” was when I taught in India right out of college. Geared up and ready to go I was excited and ready to make a difference in the world. Of course, when I arrived in the poverty stricken area of the country, I realized that I needed to rely on God for not only the wisdom to teach but also for the resources. No paper, just a chalkboard. No supplies, just whatever I could recycle and reuse, which wasn’t much. It was just God, me and the children. This experience taught me to not get so concerned about how things are to be done but who I am teaching.
Homeschooling can be such a mental battle. I try to create an atmosphere that will not only help my children thrive but one in which they can have fun too. The battle though comes when the thoughts begin flooding my mind, “am I doing enough? Am I doing this right? This isn’t how we did it in public school so are my kids really learning?” Yes. I confess, these thoughts have gone through my head. Even though I have no desire to recreate my childhood public school experience for my children, my brain sometimes gets in the way! I have to remind myself that it is okay to think outside of the box. It’s okay to utilize the gifts that God has given me in the area of teaching my children. I don’t want to be so caught up in a system, program or method that I miss a teaching opportunity that is right in front of me!
My children are still young. My preschooler is learning to count. My kindergartner is learning the basics of addition and subtraction. My second grader is now just learning multiplication. Most of the resources that I use to teach math use some sort of “counter.” I laugh at myself now for thinking that that I needed to buy the specific counters that come with the programs. For my Kindergartner, it’s the kind that snap together in a long line. After pushing aside another Lego creation on the kitchen floor, I asked myself, don’t Lego bricks do the exact. same. thing? It seems so obvious now to just use Lego bricks for counters in math but sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in, “but that’s not what the book says!”
Pinterest is filled with ways that we can use Lego bricks in our homeschool but sometimes it’s easier to pin a bunch of images than to actually figure out how to incorporate these ideas into our everyday schedule! I have listed five ways below in which you can incorporate Lego bricks into your homeschool math lessons, at least once in a while! Why not save some money and use what you have on hand?
5 Lego Learning Ideas: Math
1) Counters: While working on assigned math worksheets, allow your child to have a handful of Lego bricks in front of them. If they run across a problem that is difficult, instead of using a number line, let them use the Legos. Also works well for preschoolers who are learning to count to ten or twenty!
2) Gears: There are some wonderful sets available that include gears for the child who loves to create useful Lego creations! We have used Legos with gears to help teach about gear ratios. My second grader created his own hand mixer and made us all grape juice with his creation!
3) Graphing: An important skill that can be taught using the same color bricks or bricks with the same amount of bumps. Incorporate your math once in a while into a science or history lesson and form a graph about what you are learning that particular day!
4) Patterning: An excellent preschool activity. Draw or tell a pattern to your child while you are working with your older ones. Have them working right by your side. It’s amazing how proud and excited they can be to accomplish something right there when the older ones are working. Rather than sending them off to play in another room, they can be included and feel that they are a part!
5) Multiplication: Have bricks sorted into different sections. Have five groups of four and ask your child to count how many groups and then how many in each group. When they give you the correct answer and then figure out the total, have them state the multiplication fact to you! Then let them build something fun after five problems or so!
Heather Vogler is an eclectic homeschooling mom of three in Virginia. She has experience as a preschool teacher and loves to write, travel and cook. You can read about her thrifty homeschooling adventures at Thrift Schooling.