Math for Budding Engineers

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This post is sponsored by Intooba – Constructing Creatively.

My kids *love* to build things – they are constantly playing with Legos and blocks and sticks and anything really that they can stick together and create with. Since they love building things, I am always on the lookout for ways to bring together their love of building with our other homeschooling lessons.

There is a lot of talk about STEM in schools, and including STEM work in your homeschool is as easy as giving the kids the right tools and encouragement to explore. We have an Intooba construction set in our home that I often bring out for lesson time (and free play time) – for this lesson, we combined the kids love of building with math practice for the day.

Addition Lesson Plan for Budding Engineers 

For this lesson, you need a variety of building rods with connectors. We used the Orange, Yellow, Purple, Red and Green rods, and I gave the kids square and 6 hole connectors.

Assign each of the rods a different value. I labeled the piles of rods with their values.
Orange = 10
Yellow = 8
Purple = 5
Red = 3
Green = 2

First, I gave the kids time to free play. I had them build something using the numbered rods, and then when they were finished, I asked them to do the math and add up the values of each of the rods they used to find the total value of their creation.

Once we finished that, I started by giving them challenges. First, they needed to build a figure whose sum was 25. They could use any combination of rods and connectors, as long as the sum totaled 25. Little Miss went for the obvious solution, two orange rods, and one purple rod.

Then, I gave the kids more difficult challenges. Little Miss is only a Kindergartener, so this was a wonderful opportunity to have her work with her older brother. He was wonderfully patient in helping her count up the values of the pieces and decide which rods and connectors they should work with the build their creations.

I asked the to build a figure whose sum was 36.

I asked them to build a square whose sum was 12.

And a rectangle whose sum was 22.

I led this lesson for about 20 minutes, and before I knew it, Doodle was coming up with his own challenges for Little Miss, and she was coming up with new challenges for him. It’s not often that kids want to keep playing “math” but a building activity was all it took to get them to turn math time into play time.

Give this lesson plan a try in your home this week! And – enter our giveaway to win your own Intooba construction kit! We have so much fun with ours – the teacher’s guide contains engineering problems for grades K-6, so there is something for everyone!

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  1. My kids don’t like math when they struggle with it but my 18 year old is finally appreciating the beauty of it.

  2. My son loves math , dont know if he will continue loving it…
    I used to hate math in my high school, but later started enjoying it. I would like my son to enjoy doing math and this building set seems to be perfect for that.

    1. Deepthy, when we developed the INTOOBA Construction Kit, we knew that children would enjoy math more if they could see its practical applications. When children can use their hands and minds in building models, houses and bridges, they can use the math values assigned to the different components to solve real world problems. Many children learn through working with their hands.

  3. As a kindergarten teacher in a private school i am always looking for hands on math activities to bring STEM in the classroom. My children do not always like math but when then can add a challenge or hands on objects they are more engaged and complain less. I would love to add these to my classroom as they are not cubes and they can build with them, measure with them, count with them and allow themm to use their imagination!

  4. I always loved math and it was easy for me. None of my kids like it and it has been a struggle to teach it.

  5. My son says he hates math, but he does very well in it. I do not enjoy teaching math. Although I do appreciate that I can learn with him since I don’t remember learning most of it the first time around.

  6. I love math (I am an EE with a math minor).
    My girls all start out loving math, but a couple dislike certain math subjects as they get older.

  7. I have one math wizard and one math whiner. I am always looking for ways to make it fun and engaging.

  8. My daughter does not “love” math but doesn’t dislike it either. It is an okay subject for her, making it fun like you have here would probably be better for both of us ! I only dread teaching her math when I know it is something that she will not want to do because she may have to work a little harder to “get” it.

  9. My son loves math, but he is still young enough that he sees the fun in it. I really enjoy teaching math. It’s fun to explore new ways to play with numbers

  10. This looks awesome! I have one who loves math and one who dreads it. This looks great for both of them!

    1. Kala, we developed the INTOOBA Construction Kit to provide opportunities for student engagement through creative play. Structuring that later with math and engineering concepts and ideas offers an engaging platform for enjoying math. Understanding how math works in a hands-on application like building a house or bridge gives a student a sense of why and how we use math in everyday life.

  11. Math is one of my children’s favorite subjects. We use Right Start Math, which uses manipulatives and games to reinforce concepts (but not too many different manipulatives).

  12. my children don’t love math but they do love k’nex and legos, so I’m sure this would be a hit!

  13. Two of my children are more challenged by math. My daughter has an especially hard time grasping it, so it makes teaching it even more challenging! These are so cool!

  14. Sometimes my kids enjoy math and sometimes they don’t. I don’t mind teaching it, but I wish I didn’t have to do the grading.

  15. I love teaching math! My oldest seems to enjoy it so far and I’m hoping my younger ones will too but these would definitely help them enjoy math more.

  16. My eldest likes math but my youngest hates it. They both LOVE engineering, building and creating though!

  17. My kids love math and it is one of my favorite subjects to teach. I loved it as a kid too. We’re always looking for new and interesting ways to learn different math concepts.

  18. my kid loves math and legos, so I think she will really love these! I’m k on math, its just teaching algrebra that Im dreading! LOL

  19. My kiddos both really enjoy math!
    My son especially loves STEM like activities. My favorite way to teach math is using manipulatives and hands on learning tools!
    We don’t have anything like these, and would absolutely use them again and again! My son would be so excited to do math lessons with these!

  20. While Math isn’t hated, it’s definatelly not the most loved subject in our homeschool. Therefore we try and mix it up a bit with a combo. of teaching with Life of Fred and Teaching Textbooks.

  21. My son LOVES math, my daughter doesn’t love it, but doesn’t DISlike it 🙂 I enjoy teaching it, this looks like a super fun way to add some challenges! Thanks for the giveaway 🙂

  22. I have two that love math, two that tolerate it, and two that hate it. I love it and don’t mind teaching it at all, except when they fight me over learning it. Including games and manipulatives really does help. It is always fun to see one of my math “haters” enjoying a game (or even making one up on their own!) that is based on math. This looks like such a great set! Thank you for this opportunity!

  23. I have one that loves it and one that doesn’t and since math hasn’t always been my forte, we’ve all learned a lot along the way.

  24. My daughter is about to enter grade 1. She is an enthusiastic learner but need some more help in maths. So this would definitely be a boon.

  25. I have one kid who loves math and learns by reading.
    My other two school age kids are visual learners, so these manipulative would be great!

  26. Math is one of my kids’ favorite subjects. As someone who was always good at math but never really liked it, I sometimes struggle to challenge them or incorporate more creative problem-solving into our math routine. This would be great!

  27. Math comes easy to my kiddos, but they don’t love it. I wish they knew how lucky they are that it is easy!

  28. My son does not like math at all. I do not mind teaching math, but it can be frustrating. He loves building and creating though.

  29. My son shows interest in numbers, and we will start some formal teaching of math with Oak Meadow 1st grade this year.

  30. My kids like math a lot but I’m not the most consisting on doing formal instruction… we focus lots on play based math and life skills with some worksheets. 🙂

  31. My son really struggles with math as he has dyscalculia. While I don’t mind teaching math, it can be difficult to find fun ways to teach math that will keep him engaged but not frustrated.

  32. I don’t care for math and I have mixed responses from all of my kids. 🙂 However, my little asd guy (he is so-so about math) LOVES building with Legos so I’m sure he would love this toy!

  33. My kids are still young, and Math is only fun with a math game. My 1st grader in particular really doesn’t like worksheets. So anything that can make math more fun is great!! I’m comfortable with math as far as the basics, but worry about getting them solid to move on to more complicated stuff.

  34. My child does not love math. However, with the recent discovery of how Charlotte Mason suggested to teach math, I expect much joy in the near future.

  35. My 9 year old would love this! He has such a mind for building things. I think he too would help his little sister in learning with these.

  36. My children do well with Math, but I can’t say they love it. I do though. It is my favorite subject and I enjoy teaching it.

  37. My older daughter enjoyed math until this year – lol
    My son enjoys math – but thats because he isnt a fan of reading 🙂

  38. Kids love to play, and incorporating math into creative activities makes learning fun and memorable! This is how learning should be!

  39. He loves math he is always counting things and building and counting what he uses to build.

  40. I have a five year old that is always building something and it is amazing what his imagination comes up with.

  41. My son isn’t interested in Math so much, only when we play he pays attention. Thank You for a giveaway and Thank You for all the hard work You do to help homeschooling parent

  42. My oldest is a wizz at math but the ones coming up are not as interested. What does interest all of them is building and creating.

  43. My daughter loves math and working with different types of tools for lessons. I am not good at math at all and I dread trying to engage her in lessons on the subject because I get so flustered myself.

  44. My & yr old daughter loves Math. Excelled in it in 1st grade and hoping it continues. As for me , I am not the greatest in it like her dad is so technically I try to stay away from it.

  45. I’ve got three kids. My older two don’t care for math, but my youngest one really seems to enjoy it. I think my middle kid would love to do an activity like this for math, though. I’ll have to try doing something like this with him.

  46. Wow this is so cool! My kids don’t like math when they know they are
    Doing math. My youngest still enjoys the work books, but gets upset when she doesn’t know how to do something. My oldest does not like math! There is a lot of frustrating moment. Thanks for the giveaway

  47. My daughter loves solving puzzles with math and math-based stories. However, I don’t “teach” it, we just play with it.

  48. These look like a lot of fun! My girls struggle with math, so the more hands on stuff the better!

  49. My children love the fun manipulative math games and activities. My son doesn’t like pencil and paper math so we are trying to work up to that.

  50. We are just starting off and have good days and bad. But we love exploring manipulatives just about any time!

  51. My son and I both love math and seem to catch on to it easily. My daughter is a bit more of a free spirit and may be a completely different experience!

  52. Eldest grumbles, says she hates maths and it’s too hard.
    Teaching is fine until someone throws a tantrum.
    Youngest likes it at the moment.

  53. My oldest does not like Math but is good at many types of it. I stick to an online curriculum where I do very little teaching. I wouldn’t mind teaching her if she didn’t have such an attitude about it. She does enjoy math games and manipulative s so this would be great if we won!!

  54. My children love math, but for me, it is difficult. I teach him very easily as of yet, but he is only 5. I am sure that as he gets older he will have to go to his father more and more!

  55. My youngest is just learning math and so far he likes math. My two older boys hate math. I have a hard time teaching it.

  56. Both of my kids think that math is a total drag! However this is a fun and creative challenge that I believe can actually engage them.

  57. Math is my son’s strong suit, but my daughter doesn’t share his enthusiasm for the subject… I’m always looking for ways to jazz it up for her.

  58. Both my girls are great at math. As a preschool teacher I find it one of the easier subjects to touch on naturally with my kids.

  59. My 6th grader loves math. Since he was a toddler, he has seen the world as lots of little math problems to solve. My 4th grader struggles with math. Her approach is always so different from mine, from the books – from anyone I know! Visual is definitely key for her. My 1st grader has a wonderful aptitude for math, but easily grows frustrated and wants to quit when she encounters a difficult problem. My kindergartener thinks math is easy; after all, her book only has her do six to eight problems in a lesson!

    My secret to getting thru the hard concepts: frame the problem in terms of cookies. Suddenly, my kids’ eyes light up and the answer pops into their minds. Absolutely amazing!! Not sure what I’ll do in pre-algebra next year, but I’m sure I can figure out a way to get cookies into it! 🙂

  60. I dislike math textbooks, but love math in real life. How much more do I need? Did i use too much, how much should I take away to make it right? My oldest likes math, so we use TT and really like it.

  61. My son LOVES math and my daughter doesn’t love it but doesn’t mind and she gets really into showing what she knows and she liked hand hands on element of the abacus this week. I enjoy math a LOT so I like teaching it. 🙂

  62. My oldest son is really into math . I really don’t care to much for it . I always been horrible at math

  63. My kids love math and love building things. I don’t mind teaching math. He loves manipulatives even though he is really quick with math.

  64. Math was never my favourite subject so creative ways of teaching are always helpful. My daughter is quite good at math and the little ones enjoy math and counting games. This building set looks great! I love that it appeals to kids of multiple ages.

  65. I love math, I don’t quite know as much about my daughter yet, but it was always one of my more favorite subjects!

  66. Hi. No, my kids do not love math. I don’t mind teaching it, except when every single person in the room is frustrated and throwing pencils and flashcards around. Math is good for building patience.

  67. My kids both love math, but especially my son! I love teaching it too, only because Math U See has videos for teaching the concepts. I love math, but I can’t explain it!

  68. I know my grandchildren would love this, but sadly we all hate math, well they do I just dread trying to teach it!

  69. My daughter loves math! I was hesitant about teaching it because it wasn’t my favorite as a child but there are so many fun ways to teach it.

  70. My kids enjoy math, and I enjoy the math games and manipulatives. Sometimes, the day to day math gets me down. These look like so much fun!

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