Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.
Fine Motor Skills
A great many children are endlessly fascinated by these little plastic blocks. And while free play with them fosters creativity, you can use LEGO® bricks in a more structured way to enhance learning and development across a number of areas.
Solving math problems!: Have your child use LEGO® bricks to build an answer to a math problem.
- Multiplication and Division are easier when you can not only manipulate the pieces, but use them to build and solve the equation.
- Area and Perimeter: Each dot on the top is a standard unit. Use graph paper and lay out a piece. Demonstrate how to count around the piece (perimeter) or determine the dots on the inside (area).
- Fractions: Stack short, single color towers you can break apart to demonstrate fractions. Build your child’s fraction skills by giving her a bag of LEGO® pieces. Have her sort by color and find out what fraction of the bag each color represents. Build something with the results!
- Addition/Subtraction: Make problems easier by using the number of bumps on the blocks to support your child as she can literally “see” how to add them together, or break them apart. For visual consistency, use LEGO® bricks of the same color.
- Counting and Regrouping: If your child struggles with math, try this fun game: Set two piles of LEGO® pieces in front of her. Have her count out each pile’s blocks strategically (by 5’s, 10’s, tally marks, multiplication groupings, etc., depending on what area of math he needs to work on). Draw a front-end loader with a “<” as it’s scoop (or modify a photo). Make another loader with a “>” as its scoop. Tell your child that the loader wants to pick up the bigger pile and to place the appropriate card between the two piles. If she is correct, she gets to build with the larger pile.
- Spatial thinking and Language: Create two identical piles of bricks. Place a visual barrier between you and your child. Take turns having each of you build a creation and describe in words as you do so, having the other try and duplicate the project without any visual cues. Wonderful tool to enhance memory, executive function skills, reasoning abilities, specificity of reference, and so on. Curious how far you can go mathematically with LEGO® pieces? Check out this article about a LEGO® Death Star made to scale.
- Hopscotch: Make the equivalent of a hopscotch board, bullseye, or number grid that you can have your child throw LEGO® pieces onto (from a set distance). Depending on your child’s ability level, you can have him or her do double digit addition, multiplication, or even square roots and percentages to get their score.
- Estimation: Build something and see if your child can estimate how many bricks it took. Check by skip counting, tally counting, etc. Graph the results. Do this several times, leaving each item in tact. Have your child order the items from least number of bricks to most by visually comparing.
- Weight and Measurement: How many of X brick does it take to balance out the weight of a selected object? What about a different sized brick? Can your child come up with a ratio equation to demonstrate? Your child can also use different length LEGO® bricks to measure various objects. What about measuring her own building? Give her a set time (1 minute?) and see how tall a LEGO® tower she can build. Then measure it! Do the race several more times. Graph the results. What is her average size tower? Another idea is to use LEGO® pieces as a unit and measure things using fastened together LEGO® pieces. How many bricks long is her shoe? The table?
- Money: Set up a store and price out coveted LEGO® pieces. Give your child a set amount of money and have her buy or trade for LEGO® pieces. Be sure you have her count out the needed change!
- Games: Play War or Go Fish with longer and shorter LEGO® bricks instead of cards. Count up the total number of dots at the end and build something with your winnings! Think about using bricks also for comparing, contrasting, finding equivalences, etc.
- STEM: Don’t forget LEGO® robotics for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning!
- Visual Spatial: Make a LEGO® creation yourself. See if your child can match your design. These activities will foster visual discrimination, hand-eye coordination, and 3D engineering. Want an extra challenge? See if they can make the mirror image!
- Spot the Mistake: Make a complex pattern from LEGO® bricks, with at least one mistake. Can your child find and correct it?
Storytelling: Most children adore animating their LEGO® creations. Support the internalization of story structure and creative thinking and problem solving by having your child create stop-motion animation movies of her creations. http://www.abcya.com/animate.htm (for drawings) or http://www.clayanimator.com/english/stop_motion_animator.html.
- Want to do comics instead? Check this out.
- Or invite your child to make LEGO® avatars and create story lines or write character descriptions with them. You can also upload the screen grabs to http://www.toondoo.com/, http://www.reasonablyclever.com/mini-mizers/classic-kid-safe-mini-mizer/ or http://www.reasonablyclever.com/mm2/mini2.swf.
- Use the screen grabs of the avatars and make a wanted poster at http://www.tuxpi.com/photo-effects/wanted-poster or http://www.glassgiant.com/wanted/.
- Storytelling Pieces: Use industrial strength glue to affix magnets to the back of LEGO® characters or LEGO® “extras” (e.g., animals, trees, bikes, etc.). The pieces need to be (mostly) flat. For example, you can affix a person flat against a flat building base. Encourage your child to create story lines or act out adventures in a new “space,” a magnetized cookie sheet or refrigerator door.
- If you build it…:Give your child a set number of LEGO® bricks and a time limit (say, 15 minutes). Use a fun online timer. Then, have your child use the same set and build a completely different creation. You can give more or less time than before, depending on how easily your child can switch gears in her thinking. You can also set parameters along which the project must change (e.g., can’t be the same type of structure, or X% of the creation must be different, etc.). Check out this online option.
- Social Studies, Science, or Reading: Invite your child to extend what they are doing in Social Studies or science with LEGO® bricks! They can make a model of a slave cabin, a rain forest, a house for their favorite character, a vehicle for the villain in their tale, etc.
- What Am I?: Build something. Your child can ask up to 20 questions to figure out what you made!
- LEGO® Smile: App that lets you take a photo and turn it into an image that looks like its made of LEGO® bricks. Fun!
Online Options: There are a number of online sites that will provide various challenges, creativity, or virtual playing options. Preview the choices below to make sure they are a good match for your family values and your child.
- LEGO® Universe Creation Lab
- LEGO® online games by category (action, strategy, creative, adventure, preschool)
- Online challenges
- Minecraft is a game that lets your child build an imaginary LEGO®-type world. It is open-ended and allows for great imagination. Players scavenge for resources in order to build things before dark, when the imaginary monsters arrive. Check it out before you have your child play; the classic version is free.
- Make a LEGO® maze! Create a maze (or invite your motivated child to!) and see if she can roll a marble successfully out!
- Kids can create their own LEGO® web page to display creations or to strategically grow virtual items by using challenging blueprints. According to LEGO®, it is a safe, moderated online environment for kids.
- LEGO® Bricks in Space: Team up with the crew on board the International Space Station (ISS) to explore the effects of micro gravity on simple machines made with LEGO® bricks.
- Monthly LEGO® Builds: “Blueprints” for a new item to build each month.