It was my son’s idea. I had just downloaded a new LEGO book sent to me for review and suggested my son pick a couple of activities for testing purposes.
“Let’s just try all of them,” he said after scrolling down.
Oh sure, no problem, there are only over one hundred of them in this book. But I am always up to trying new ideas with my kids. So lately we’ve been spending most of our evenings surrounded by piles of LEGO® bricks scrolling through The Unofficial Guide to Learning with LEGO®.
If you only use LEGO® bricks according to instructions on the box, you are missing out and this is why.
It can change a worldview
It’s great to be able to put together blocks according to instructions. Kids love to admire a beautiful new creation that sprung out of their hard work. However, it changes children’s worldview when they realize that LEGO® bricks can be used for so much more than that! You can measure time with LEGO® (make a Sun Clock), you can hide them in a bath bomb and take a bath with them (Bath Bombs), you can practice important literacy skills (Sight Word Towers), build engineering projects (Water Dam), and practice some important mathematical skills (Skip Counting and Ten Frames).
It shifts the focus from replication to imagination
Do you know that LEGO® bricks started off as an open-ended activity that came without kits with instructions? It changed in the 1990s when in the midst of recession toy industry sales decreased dramatically and LEGO® was about to go out of business. With one ingenious move, LEGO® company dug themselves out of a slump and simultaneously changed the face of LEGO forever. The move was to sign a deal with LucasFilm to create a line of Star Wars kits.
From exploratory activity building with LEGO® became about moving step-by-step toward the pre-established ideal. If it looks like a picture on the box, you succeeded!
I love Albert Einstein quote, “Logic will get you from A to B, but imagination will get you everywhere.” When you shift the focus from replication to imagination, there is so much more you can get out of your little-colored bricks.
LEGO® bricks make learning easier
Workbooks can be the easiest way to fill up on math facts and science instructions, but it can also get… – what’s a good word for it? – boring! All children start as tactile learners. They learn best by doing. There is lots of benefit in hands-on activities, building with hands, designing things and using manipulatives. Colorful LEGO® bricks are perfect tools for presenting many challenging concepts. You can learn number bonds with books or online program, but you can also use LEGO® bricks and have oodles of fun.
So what is The Unofficial Guide to Learning with LEGO®?
The Unofficial Guide to Learning with LEGO® is a 210-page ebook (and actual book) filled with a wide range of learning activities that combine LEGO® with the practice in the areas of math, engineering, science experiments, logic, imagination and more. Activities in the book are suitable and easily adaptable for a wide range of ages. Each project includes the list of materials and supplies, well articulated step-by-step instructions, and full-color photographs of each activity.
I want to give you some examples:
Number Bonds (page 160)
You need: a base plate, long bricks ( one stud wide) and 1×1 bricks for counters.
You are instructed to construct three squares, which you will use to practice the relationship between the number and the parts that combine to make it (or number bonds). A very important part of understanding how numbers work!
Some other math activities in the book: skip counting, fractions, number sentences, measuring, multiplication, etc.
Sight Word Towers (page 178)
You need: 2×2 Duplo bricks, a small base, and a dry erase marker
Pick a couple of sight words to work on (we are practicing because and which). Write each letter of each word 5-8 times and put all the bricks in the pile. Start practicing.
Sun Clock (page 192)
You need: a base plate, 1×1 studs, and some longer bricks
Build a long tower and attach to the middle of the base. Place the base outside on a sunny day and mark the shadow every hour of the day. Watching the clock has never been as much fun!
Surprise LEGO Bath Bombs (page 194)
You need: baking soda, citric acid, corn starch, Epsom salt, oil, water, food coloring, mini-figure, ice mold.
Combine wet and dry ingredients into a ball. Hide the mini-figure inside and let the ball dry overnight. What happens when a bath bomb is placed in the water? I can not think of a better way to learn about chemistry and chemical reactions!
Build a Water Dam (page 32)
You need: a baseplate, blocks, connector pieces and a container to catch water.
Build a dam, test a dam. Getting kids excited about engineering one water dam at a time!
Our favorite activity so far was to design a volcano. My son used white bricks to make a snow-capped Alps, where we recently spent a vacation. It was a fun challenge to construct a shape that could hide inside a container filled with baking soda. When the construction was completed we added some red food coloring and lots of vinegar. Fun!
We are still working on getting through the whole book, but I highly recommend The Unofficial Guide to Learning with LEGO® for any teacher or parent of young children. With easy to follow instructions and colorful illustrations, kids will learn and have fun at the same time.
Where can you get The Unofficial Guide to Learning with LEGO® ?
Digital download (PDF format) – The Unofficial Guide to Learning with LEGO®: 100+ Inspiring Ideas
I can not wait to hear how much you love it!
Disclaimer: I was sent a digital version of this book free of charge. All opinions in my review are my own.
LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site.
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