The Learning Renaissance

Making Learning Concrete: Realising Numbers in Mathematics with Scandinavians!

I don’t tend to subscribe to the ‘what goes around comes around!’ school of thought as it often represents lazy thinking. Things which might appear similar change over time or when applied to new contexts.

However I did smile when a teacher presented the use of Lego bricks as a revolutionary method for making young children familiar with the use of number and fractions.

LEGO fractions

Picture: Alycia Zimmerman

We had a system in place when I was in primary school to achieve the same objective by associating colours and length of shapes with number. They were called Cuisenaire Rods and they came in a beautiful wooden box with segments for the different sizes of wooden sticks. Each of the rods had a piney tang as if they were fresh from a Scandinavian Forest and working with them was a tactile and sensory delight.

Cuisenaire Rods

I suppose their shortcoming as that you could not attach them together and you were always no more than a jolt of your table away from your calculations being ruined.

Lego blocks have the benefit of being able to be locked together so that you could maintain and show your working out. But the piney tang is gone, replaced by manufactured plastic – a parable for our times.

It is good to see the influence of the Scandinavian nations in both systems though!

Further reading:

An Incredibly Effective Way To Develop Your Child’s Math Skills With LEGO Blocks |

Teach Uses LEGO to Teach Children Fractions and Other Maths

Alycia Zimmerman |

Using LEGO to build math concepts |

Ways to use LEGO in the Classroom |

Creative Ways to Use LEGO


About educationalist04

I'm convinced we can, as a species, do much better than this if we set our minds to being much more positive and productive towards our fellow humans. The solution is learning - creating independent and autonomous learners who can problem solve, innovate and create a better more equitable and sustainable world. My books, Future Proof Your School and Re-Examining Success together with this blog, explore how better learning outcomes for all can be achieved.

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