You often hear that LEGO is a classic or iconic toy. Calling it a toy is almost doing this wonderful creation a disservice. A toy can be seen as frivolous or something that you only play with. Boys who build with LEGO see it as much more. They are working, creating and learning with LEGO. LEGO is Danish for Leg Godt which means Play Well. The LEGO Company is serious about play and boys are serious about their LEGO.
Why LEGO is such a great toy?
- LEGO inspires creativity in boys and it gets them to use their imagination.
- LEGO designs its different products to work together. (Had I know that the small LEGO bricks fit on Duplo bricks I wouldn’t have gotten rid of them when my son got older. Grr!)
- Endless possibilities in a bucket.
- LEGO goes from the simple large bricks of Duplo to the computer controlled robotics of Mindstorms.
- LEGO grows with your child. Your child can keep learning more techniques and building more unique creations as he grows. LEGO doesn’t become obsolete.
- LEGO goes from the physical bricks to a CAD design program called LEGO Digital Designer (free download) which allows boys to create a LEGO creation on the computer and then build it with their bricks.
- LEGO is active, hands-on fun.
What is your boy learning by playing with LEGO?
- LEGO teaches a boy to think in 3 dimensions.
- When building with LEGO he uses patterns, color and design.
- LEGO gets boys to use fine motor skills. Boys tend to be seen as “behind” in this area.
- They learn how to follow detailed instructions.
- Structural engineering (bridges, buildings) is learned in a hands-on way.
- Boys learn to work with scale. Is my minifig going to look huge in this building? Will this tree look like a tree or a sapling next to the house?
- Why construction techniques matter. If I make the base too small this is going to fall over. If I don’t support my walls they will collapse.
- Tenacity or stick-to-itiveness.
- That hard work gets you the results you want. Huge smiles occur when a LEGO project turns out just the way your son wanted it to.
- Critical thinking.
- Math concepts—in a natural way.
- If he is playing with others he is learning sharing, cooperation and team-work.
- Problem solving.
- How to handle frustration. LEGO falls apart and boys can get really upset by this. Practicing handling frustration in an encouraging environment can really help boys handle frustrations in other areas of their lives.
What you can do to encourage LEGO play.
- Buy more LEGOS. Yup, a boy can really never have enough LEGO. Try the pick-a-brick wall at a LEGO shop (also available online). Invite your boy to pick out anything he would like to choose that can fit in the cup. They have so many unique pieces to add to your LEGO collection.
- Let him build. Don’t direct his building. You don’t need to say . . . “can you build a blue tower with 25 pieces” or “now you can build a dog.” Let your boy use his imagination and creativity to come up with the things he would like to make.
- Get down on the floor and build with him. This is really important to do with boys of all ages. An older boy, who might not be used to you playing with him, and may wonder what in the world you are doing (lol) but give it a try. He is only going to be in your house playing LEGO for a short part of his life. Build together and build your relationship.
- Ask for advice on how to build. Let him teach you some things about LEGO building techniques.
- Get out the mini figs and tell some stories. My son has built a LEGO house that is a great “storyboard.” We pretend, play, create and tell great stories while doing so.
- Get some LEGO building books like the LEGO Ideas Book or the new LEGO Play Book.
- Subscribe to the free LEGO Club magazine.
- LEGO is fun—you don’t need to make LEGO into an assignment for boys to gain valuable learning from it—Just Play LEGO.
There is so much learning that goes on by simply pulling out the LEGO and letting your boy create. Use the information in this post to reassure yourself that he is actually learning while spending hours and hours playing with LEGO and that play can equal learning. Enjoy and Play Well.
Sheila Rogers blogs at BrainPowerBoy.com, a site about boys’ learning. She offers information about boys’ learning, play, and boys’ learning styles, as well as LEGO, boys’ book reviews and other fun stuff for boys. You can also find Sheila on Pinterest, Facebook and YouTube.