Monday, June 20, 2011

A Lego 'Curriculum'?

A few years ago, when first asked what curriculum we used for our then kindergarten-aged oldest son, I smiled and answered, "Legos!"

The person smiled and then conversation went on. I later found out they thought I had purchased a pre-packaged all-subject curriculum based around the tiny plastic bricks!

Oh, how I laughed!!

At age 8, he still loves to build contraptions and make pretend play and games. Last night, he and his brother just younger than him had stacked up wooden blocks to represent how many 'guys' they each had on their team and then sent out Lego 'guys' to battle each other. They love to make up these games on their own very often. It's one reason why we keep a large amount where the boys, and our daughter, can pull them out and use them when the mood, or idea, strikes.

Now, I jokingly refer to Legos as a great learning tool, but there are in fact many real lessons that go along with this tiny manipulative. You've seen our spelling words, that my handsome husband invented as a way to engage our kids and encourage reading and spelling.

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"Zerg" is, believe it or not, an actual term   :^)

But, you might be surprised by the learning that occurs naturally, without a teacher standing over their shoulder or a worksheet for practicing a concept. Learning happens, very often, serendipitously

Here is an example of doing multiplication with the bricks.

9 x 3 + 1 = 28

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Organizing skills and having a keen eye come with the territory. How else can they find the exact tiny piece they need to complete their self-planned project?

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Speaking of self-planned, these projects are all initiated by the boys, with a few challenges from their Dad, which they love to build and them show him for acknowledgment and approval occasionally.

As parents, we recognize the very valuable skills of being self-starters and seeing their plan through to completion as vital life skills. They always complete their goals because they thought of it and the desire is intrinsic--it comes from within. How many adults struggle with this skill in their education or work? This is one of those traits we want our kids to be able to build on from youth and Legos has played a role in them building those traits.

Cooperation and communication are also key as they learn to work together to find or share pieces.

Both the oldest boys often invite me or Dad to see the neat thing they have built, which invites conversation about how many pieces are here, or what they plan to build on there. They enjoy explaining the project and what the purpose of the vehicle is or what the storyline is in which the creation is a part of, in their imagination.

I have seen the boys learn to be so patient when a little one discovers a carefully crafted vehicle and then decimates it, all the while smiling innocently at the big brother.

Sometimes a parent is needed to help them express their feelings in an appropriate way, without resorting to hitting or yelling, but they are increasingly building self-control, learning to keep important projects out of the way of tiny hands, and when the inevitable Lego destroying does occur, I am so happy to see when they do lovingly respond to the wrong-doer. I see them mimic the modeling I and their Dad have been working to do with love and patience. It has been a lesson to me, too, to continue responding in love and helping others to do so, as well.

Who'd have thought tiny plastic bricks play such a role in all that learning?

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3 comments:

  1. WE love Legos! Call us Lego Maniacs here! THanks for linking up this great post to NOBH!

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  2. Hey wel done on helping your kids express their feelings in a controlled manner.
    For me that is a day by day process but I can see some progress with my daughter who feels everything so deeply.
    And Lego is awesome isn't it, its one of those toys that will be in a family for years and years, being used in different ways.
    Cheers
    Inger

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  3. Internet High 5, melismama! Thanks for stopping by and saying 'hi'.

    Thanks for stopping by, Inger. The site you linked to is amazing...what a resource!

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Thanks for your comment today! I love reading your thoughts, too. :-)