Wednesday, August 7, 2013

8 Ways to Learn with Lego's

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In our house, Lego's are on our Top 5 Favourite Toys list. Lego's are so much fun and they are played with daily. Munchkin especially loves Lego's, which is why we gave him plenty of new Lego's for his birthday. Whenever he wanders off to play on his own, he goes straight for the box of Lego's and can be there for quite a while, just building away. Bean likes to play with Lego's too, but she takes a different approach to building with them. She will stack blocks of the same size or colour, or when she is building on a plate, she will make sure that all the pieces are even before working on the next level. Munchkin will just add pieces wherever he fancies and soon enough he will have a crazy tower clearly built by an architect who likes to defy gravity.

You can also learn a lot from Lego's! They are one of those educational toys that the kids will not tire of. The Duplo Lego's that we have will last them several years and I bet they will continue to play with them after they have outgrown them.


You could easily take a dry-erase marker or, if you wanted, you could even use permanent marker to number a couple of Lego blocks. We bought the LEGO Number Train for Munchkin's birthday so that they would have a permanent set of number blocks to play with. Before that we had been writing numbers on the blocks using a dry-erase marker. When we play with the numbered blocks, we will count them, line them up from lowest number to biggest number, match numbers and do simple math with them. When we do math I will have a picture ready for Bean to work with. In the below picture, she had three numbers to work with (1, 3 and 4). The picture she had to work with showed spots on a lady bug, and she had to count the spots and match the correct Lego number block to the picture. You can also line them up, using just the blocks, and have one block in the first space, two blocks stacked in the second, three blocks stacked in the third, etc. You could also use them for addition and subtraction, but we haven't gotten that far yet. LEGO Creative Play All-in-One-Box-of-Fun also provides some pieces for counting.

Bean loves to work with numbers, but Munchkin prefers letters. He's really great with memory games, so often when he will join us for this activity, he will watch Bean for a while before he will attempt to help figure out the problem. When we first started to work with letter blocks, we used a dry-erase marker and sometimes letter stickers. Now we have a set of blocks with letters already on them and they are great because they also have a little picture that goes along with the letter (D is for Dinosaur, I is for Igloo, etc.). The activity we were doing in the picture below was filling in the blanks. Two letters were missing and they had a bowl of four letters to choose from. We first started off with four letters and built up from there. You can also do a letter matching game (uppercase, lowercase and both), putting them in alphabetical order or using them to spell. When we do spelling activities, I will have pictures and letters for them to work with. So if Bean chooses the picture of the cat, I will put a few random letters into a bowl along with c, a and t. When we first did this, the picture had the word under it so she knew what letters to match. LEGO DUPLO Play with Letters is the set that we own.

Probably the easiest activity to do with Lego's is colour sorting. In this activity, all you need to have is several different colour Lego's and then let them sort them into bowls or containers, or just use a building plate to separate them. You can also separate the colours by size or shape as well.

Bean's favourite colour activity is creating a colour pattern. We will typically use the small square blocks and I will start the pattern and she has to continue it. It can be as simple as two colours, or as many as you want. We typically use 2-4 colours. And sometimes I don't even have to start the pattern, she will just make them on her own, like the ones in the picture below. 

Surprisingly you can also find a lot of shapes using Lego's. From circles and squares to rectangles and ovals to half-moons (Bean insists they are half-moons instead of calling them crescents) and triangles (although we don't have any in the picture below). You can sort them by shape, count how many circles they have on each block or the squares in the window, or use multiple blocks to create another shape (two squares stacked or lined up create a rectangle). 

Building with Lego's is definitely Munchkin's favourite activity. We bought a few sets of Lego's at Christmas and for a while he didn't pay much attention to them. Then out of the blue a few months ago Munchkin sat down with them and started building and it was like discovering a whole new world for him. Since then he has enjoyed playing and building with Lego's every day. The buildings he creates often seem gravity defying and extremely intricate. Now that he has tons more Lego's from his birthday, he can create even larger buildings and so far he hasn't run into the problem of running out of Lego's, which has happened in the past and always made me feel so bad because I could tell he was itching to add more to it and couldn't. Below are just a few pictures of his creations that I managed to catch a picture of before it was taken apart. Typically his creations are at least four times that size.

Bean loves playing with the animals that came with some of the Lego's. She likes to name them and I'll often find her separating them by what type of animal they are (wild, farm, pet). She also uses the Lego people to care for the animals and will bring them food and water. She will also build them habitats and enclosures and will tell me if they are in a zoo or living in the wild. LEGO DUPLO My First Zoo and LEGO DUPLO My First Farm are a great place to start!

Munchkin's newest Lego's came with plenty of new vehicles. He loves them! He can now make plenty of cars, trains and special vehicles, like trackers, utility trucks and construction vehicles. You can use them to tell different vehicles apart, learn how they work, build them and combine them to create really awesome vehicles. We love LEGO DUPLO Creative Cars Building Set and My First Construction Site Building Set!

The miscellaneous Lego's also deserve some love! You can use them to teach what they are called, how they are used and what they do. For example, fences are used to keep animals in a specific area or to separate areas. Windows and doors are used in buildings and you can compare them to the ones in your house. You can teach what a street light is for and what the colours represent and even practice using the Lego cars. "Green light - GO! Yellow Light - SLOW DOWN! Red light - STOP!"

Needless to say, Lego's are tons of fun to play with and can be used in so many educational activities.

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