George Lucas Educational Foundation

Making a Math Lesson More Hands-On

When teachers provide opportunities for students to construct figures and play with dimensions while exploring geometry, math becomes more accessible to everyone.

June 1, 2023

At Vorbasse Skole in Denmark, playful-learning coaches have been working with teachers closely to help them assess their lessons and infuse more play wherever possible. In middle school math classes, for instance, a geometry unit was transformed when teachers started offering students materials like sticks and clay to build three-dimensional shapes with their hands, letting them work out problems by drawing on plexiglass desk surfaces, and building in space for productive struggle through estimation and iteration. The students worked in teams to come up with measurements and solutions. “They [became] very creative—using extra sticks to connect everything and being almost like small architects, trying to make things really last, instead of just falling down,” says Danish teacher Lea Kirkegaard. Research supports this approach: Hands-on math lessons give students a chance to grapple with complex concepts more deeply—and can result in deeper understanding.

To learn more about the research behind the practices seen in the video, check out the resources below.

Vorbasse Skole

Public, Urban
Grades K-9

Edutopia developed the Making Learning More Playful series with support from The LEGO Foundation

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  • Collaborative Learning
  • Critical Thinking
  • Math
  • 6-8 Middle School
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