You can create:
- A three-dimensional Lego representation of multiplication table
Draw a times table (up to five or so) on a large piece of paper. You can start with a few cells and see how much space you will need, depending on the way you go about your construction. Then figure out what you will do for multiplication. You can ask kids to represent 1, 2, 3 with Legos first. Then represent 2*3. The picture above shows one possibility among many: the first number is how many Lego blocks of each color you use for a tower, and the second number is how many colors you use. Once I did this with a group of six kids, and every kid came up with his or her own ways to represent multiplication with Legos.
Because this activity provides kinesthetic, hands-on, beautiful representation of multiplication table. The third dimension allows to visualize patterns you can otherwise miss.
As you go
- Observe and record any patterns or interesting facts that come up
- Take pictures - this activity can be quite beautiful
- Don't rush the building parts for the sake of "math parts", because both are important
Higher and deeper
- 3d visualizations are frequently used to represent enormous databases. Look at this graph of 2008 elections results.
- Reference to roots of this activity: Abrahamson, D. (2001). The multiplication table as an 'object to think with': A constructionist project with a phenomenological twist. Unpublished manuscript. Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. [dor at berkeley dot edu]