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There’s more to LEGO than meets the eye. Many parents and teachers associate it with informal free-range play or model-building, but LEGO has its own purpose-built education set-up – and since 1980 has been devoted to supporting learning with high-quality curriculum-based resources.
For me, this is LEGO at its best. The resources developed by LEGO Education are meticulously designed to help children be active, creative and collaborative solution-seekers. Being LEGO-smart is all about pupils demonstrating their understanding of key concepts beyond pencil and paper.
One of LEGO Education’s offerings is MoreToMaths – a hands-on maths supplementary resource for KS1 pupils designed to help them build and apply their problem-solving skills and higher-order thinking. It includes curriculum activities where pupils help two mini-figure characters, Max and Mia, solve challenges within four real-life themes using a special tool that reminds children that, if you look carefully, maths is everywhere.
The core set for two pupils contains 521 pieces of LEGO, including bricks, base plates, brick separators, a storage bin and one-step building instructions. To bring these materials to life you’ll need the curriculum pack, which is available to purchase separately and contains 48 activities, curriculum target descriptions (along with a learning grid), teaching notes, lesson plans and pupil worksheets. There are also five extremely useful training videos.
All the software for this pack is delivered digitally and which, as you would expect from LEGO, is top quality. What I especially like is the ‘purple brick challenge’ which is located on every pupil worksheet. Here, kids’ problem-solving abilities are taken to the next phase with an additional task for able students to complete should they finish before their classmates.
A study carried out by the University of Derby has found that LEGO plays a vital role in the development of maths skills in children, so there is little doubt this resource has the potential to build better mathematicians. In this regard, LEGO has got this product absolutely spot on.
The thought behind the make-up of the set is obvious – each brick serves a purpose in supporting maths learning, from colour selection to shapes, sizes and number of studs. I think this is important because too much detail and children can get easily distracted, but here it’s perfectly balanced for the intended age group.
The cost of LEGO is always the stumbling block. The pack I am reviewing here is priced at £53.99, but a class pack of 15 suitable for 30 pupils is just shy of £900. Now, I see the value in front of me and the innovation and work that has gone into the kit – and whilst I do not doubt for a second that you get what you pay for, I think LEGO would get more schools involved by shaving some pounds and pence off its price tags. However, if you want a Rolls Royce, you can’t expect to get it for the price of a Fiat Punto, and the LEGO will still be going strong long after you’ve retired.
I have a lot of faith in this new resource as LEGO Education understands children and how their minds work. Maths isn’t just about numbers and facts; it’s also about thinking, and studies have shown that pupils perform better when they have something to manipulate. There is plenty of evidence that a playful, creative and hands-on approach engages pupils of all abilities and this resource is another fine example of what you can do with LEGO when it has been designed with more than free-play in mind.
THE VERDICT: Builds critical thinking
The idea behind this resource is that by using LEGO bricks alongside mathematical thinking, pupils will feel encouraged and motivated to think, write and speak freely about maths. And with such an awesome piece of kit it’s easy to see this happening. This is smart LEGO that will definitely contribute towards developing logical reasoning, critical thinking, teamwork and, above all, a positive, can-do approach to the subject.
Reviewed by John Dabell
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