Introducing MAP MATS: Playful Adventures in Math and Science

If you’re looking for ways to engage K-3 learners in fun, immersive play-based learning, try MAP MATS: Playful adventures in math and science created by the Center for Access and Achievement at Maryville University as part of the Playful Engineering-Based Learning grant funded by LEGO Foundation.

What is it? 

MAP MATS: Playful Adventures in math and science is a set of activities that supports joyful, meaningful, play-based learning. The activities use the following materials: 

  • Three large floor MAP MATS
  • LEGO Education DUPLO Kits: My XL World, Steam Park, and People
  • A downloadable activity guide with colorful, clear directions for 25 different activities focused on play-based learning for math, engineering, and science

How does it work?

Children work in pairs or small groups around one of the three MAP MATS on the classroom floor. The mats are colorful representations of environments familiar to children such as a playground, roadway, and beach. 

Using one of the recommended LEGO Education DUPLO kits, teachers will facilitate one of the 25 activities which foster play-based learning in math, engineering, and science.  For example, children can practice spatial and pattern recognition, numeracy, and measuring skills, or learn how the coordinate system works. 

Activities are designed for 30-minute to one-hour lessons. 

How do the MAP MATS promote learning through play? 

The centerpiece of the kits are three vinyl mats which are 54” X 40”.  The mats include numbers and letters on each axis representing the coordinate system. 

The mats provide context and a defined area that triggers children’s imagination and creativity when working with the LEGO bricks as the children carry out the activities. They also create a shared immersive environment to support classroom discussions and common representations. Finally, they build community through collaborative fun, imaginative storytelling, and hands-on problem-solving of STEM-based challenges.  While doing the many creative activities, teachers encourage children to invent, iterate, try things out, and fail!  

How do I access these kits?

To start, go to the MAP MATS website, where you can download the printable MAP MATS activity guide and PDFs of the MAP MATS. Videos of a teacher demonstrating select MAP MAT activities are forthcoming. 

You can purchase the STEAM Park, My XL World, and People DUPLO kits from the LEGO Education website.

How did this project come about?

MAP MATS: Playful adventures in math and science were created by Karen Engelkenjohn of Maryville University as part of the grant-supported project, Supporting and Amplifying Local Organizations Engaged in Playful Engineering-Based Learning Post-COVID. This grant funded by the LEGO Foundation and awarded to Tufts Center for Engineering and Education Outreach supports a diverse group of outreach organizations. One of those organizations, Center for Access and Achievement at Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri, spearheaded this project.

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