LEGO Lovers Learning Literacy
Date posted: January 21, 2019
It’s Family Literacy Week! This year’s theme is Let’s Make It!
Today we’re pleased to welcome Chrisy Hill, Community Literacy Coordinator for the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy – Elk Valley, as a guest blogger. Chrisy shares a family literacy resource using LEGO for fun and learning.
LEGO has been a kids’ favorite since 1932. And it has more recently become a favorite for educators as well. The ever-popular building toy is perfect for encouraging literacy because children enjoy it so much, they don’t realize they are learning. Some elementary schools have LEGO clubs during lunch hour, teachers use it in the classroom and the majority of libraries have afterschool LEGO clubs as well.
The library in my community has offered an after-school LEGO Club for as long as I can remember. Their program is for children 7 years and older. This left a gap in the “market” for kindergarten and grade 1 students wanting after-school programming. So, I suggested a CBAL LEGO Club to my manager who challenged me to prove the literacy validity of such a program. I’m certain she already knew the answer, but she made me figure it out for myself. This gentle nudge helped me not only develop a program, but ensure it was educational, engaging for kids and adults and checked all the boxes for a quality community literacy program.
There is something special about figuring things out for yourself. My manager’s technique worked just as well on me as it does for children. When a child gets to discover the answer rather than being given the answer, he/she develops a better understanding of whatever concept is being learned. This child will gain a stronger sense of accomplishment and feels like he/she discovered a secret no one else knows about. It is an exciting moment.
This is especially so when there isn’t a “right” answer. And what better way to figure out “your” answer than by making it with LEGO? So, I did the research and put all of my newly acquired knowledge together and started offering LEGO Lovers for 5 and 6 year old students in Fernie. I run LEGO Lovers as a parented program so that I can help parents understand not only the benefits of play-based learning, but also so I can guide them to allow their children to make discoveries on their own.
Through the direction of the facilitator and use of the challenges, participants learn and improve:
- Problem solving
- Understanding of scientific concepts
- Following instructions (verbal, written, picture)
- Fine motor skills for writing
- Social skills
- Symbolic representation
LEGO Lovers is a collection of 11 activities and challenges. At the beginning of each session I have a box of Duplo LEGO with letters on each block. The children spell their names with the letters to define their playmat/station. I adore seeing the progression from week one where some will spell backwards and others will place the correct letters randomly on their playmat, to the final week when they can find their letters and place them in order independently.
Then we start the challenge……Some days are very opened ended such as “Lap-time LEGO”. Caregivers read a story to their child and then they build the story with LEGO. Other activities are more structured such as “Restricted Building”. Each child is given the exact same pieces of LEGO. They have 5 or 10 minutes to build whatever they want, but they must use every piece. It is always so fascinating to see the variety that can come from this activity.
My favorite LEGO is the box of random pieces because it mirrors life and learning as an adult. Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual. You have to take the random pieces and make sense of them to build your own life.