Teaching With Building Blocks - Lesson 1: Addition and Subtraction

Learning with blocks is a fun way to introduce play into the classroom.  We want to encourage play learning, which we call "plearning" (I know I'm a dork) in order to trick our kids into learning so the process is less painless for everyone involved.

Addition and subtraction is a perfect starter lesson for the younger kids.

Plearning Activity:

Have them add the studs of two, three, or four lego blocks to come up with a total. 

They then should show the answer by placing blocks with the correct number of studs in the answer column.

Addition With LEGO Blocks

You can make it a bit more challenging by making the rule that they have to come up with a different combination of blocks for their answer. Otherwise, they will realize that if they are adding a 4 stud and a 6 stud, all they have to do is find identical blocks and put them together.

If they are writing their numbers, go ahead and have them write the answer too.

This is also an excellent opportunity to teach the associative property of addition where you can have a 4 stud added to a 6 stud and the answer will be the same as a 6 stud added to a 4 stud.

For subtraction, set up the blocks so that the smaller number is always on the right (we're not yet up to teaching negative numbers) and go through the same process.  Have the kids represent the answer 

If this is difficult for the kids, show them how they can stack the smaller block on the larger one and count the studs still showing on the larger block. This is a great example of how subtraction is reducing one number by another.

Advanced Plearning Activity:

Once your kids have mastered simple addition, you can make it more interesting by stacking the blocks vertically or, better yet, have them make a small creation and see if they can add all of the studs on the blocks up (even the studs they cannot see).  

This will help them with abstraction, understanding that even if they can't see them, they can deduce how many studs are still there. 

How to make a LEGO-table in 5 minutes

The table in the above post was made in less than 5 minutes using Creative QT Baseplates

Creative QT is the creator of the Peel-and-Stick LEGO® compatible baseplates which make it super fast and easy to apply a LEGO building surface to any table or wall in minutes.

Check out the video below to see them in action and click here to see prices for making your own play surface.


This product is not associated or endorsed by LEGO® or LEGO® Group of companies.

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