Mar 11, 2012

Creative use of Lego

When I was a kid, Lego blocks were rectangular prisms. In the fancy sets, you could get slanted roof blocks, and doors. It was a very limited tool for a fertile curvilinear imagination!

But these days...

This is a post about using Lego creatively in your homeschool (with a quick look at how, after years of the big box full of mixed Lego, we now have organised our kits and free Lego). 

Our creative process
After the learning day is over, the Lego box is often pulled out and fun ensues. Sometimes the prompt is from the current challenge from Lego Quest - a monthly challenge from Sam for homeschooled kids - or just busy fingers and meditative minds. Here is some of what happens:

We have used Lego in most of our learning areas.

Ancient History - Minoan labyrinth from Ancient Greece...

reinforcing our use of Latin stems such as aqua - aqueduct - (from Michael Clay Thompson's Building Language) when July built a mini city scape...

Science - here is Watt with his steam engine...

Literature - here is Jardis the White Witch from "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" with her wolf Maugrim, the head of the Secret Police...

In our ongoing Art education self portrait projects...

Biology - learning about the cell with these lovely Lego amoebas...

Art History - after going to the Surrealism exhibit at GOMA in Brisbane...

Social Studies...

(oooh, drawing a long bow here) as we are a family obsessed with robots, so here are some robot families, and the lovely red construction is July's "Lost Thing" from the incredibly wonderful Shaun Tan book "The Lost Thing"...

Have you clicked on that link? You really must...there is info on the book as well as the movie made of the book. Gorgeous.

Organising Lego
This can feel as impossible as organising spaghetti or herding cats, but here is how to organise your Lego -  it works for us.

Discard the boxes
We have quite a few kits (fun, but at this stage less creative than loose Lego) which I store deconstructed in plastic zip lock bags together with the instructions. 

They store better this way as they take up less room, mould doesn't grow on the boxes (recycle those once you have cut out the important photos) and it encourages actual "construction" rather than just using it as a toy. That toy play can happen at the end.

What does Lego actually teach kids?
Following Lego kit instructions teaches sequencing, hones observation, is terrific for visual spatial learners (highly represented in Gifted populations) and is great for the bright kid who wants to work independently but is not reading fluently. Also good training for Ikea furniture assembly hehe.

How to organise loose Lego - put the kids to bed
This is a job to be done without little helpers : )

Buy some tool boxes with adjustable compartments. They need to have transparent lids so that you can see what is in each compartment. Lego storage must be kid friendly.

Yes - I tried separate boxes but that way is madness. Then you have to pull out every box because for sure the one you want is the last one...Plastic takeaway containers just cut your fingers (the City people shown above are now also bagged: ), drawers just drive you mad because they are too big to find tiny things, other individual boxes are expensive...

You may have noticed that I had been trying to solve this for a while.

Dump out that horrible big box of loose Lego and start sorting. This is the horrible part and requires some foresight (and possible a pot of tea or glass of wine). 

We have 2 tool boxes - one full of the usual bricks, separated into sizes like mixed colour 8s, or mixed colour 4s, then all the whites, then into groups of narrows and thins. 

The second tool box has all the tricky special stuff like arches, clear bricks, flagpoles, printed Lego, wheel assemblies etc.

Once sorted, put them in the compartments, then WRITE A LABEL and stick it on the lid. I used pencil so I could change it if I messed up :)


When I first organised Lego this way, a few years ago, July was too little to help put it back in the right spaces, but now at 8 and 6 years old, tidying up has become a job that they are happy to do : )

There is always that reward of "tomorrow you can get out the Lego again!"

Need inspiration? How about a Lego House? From James May's Toy Stories:

Mar 4, 2012

Our little Nipper

We are very proud parents this week. And not for the usual reason - the finishing of a mammoth book, a solo singing spot, a great session of independent learning, a fabulous chapter completed of Caesar's English, a terrific drama performance...

This week we are glowing with pride over s-p-o-r-t.

Yes! Truly! On a gifted kids education blog, we are grinning over winning a place in the State Titles for Nippers (Junior Surf Life Saving Club). Our self-proclaimed geek girl November was invited to compete as she had run and waded her way into the top four girls in her age group in our local club, Byron Bay Junior Surf Lifesaving Club.

This is the kid who ran her first race at 4.5 at school - and was so proud of herself coming in 7th. 

As a tall, rather gangly kid, it has been amazing this summer to see her go from the very back of the pack to that first four. 

And her parents had nothing to do with it.

While we run around with other parents helping out with the Under 7s (picture 35 kids waist deep in the ocean with two wonderful age managers - herding swimming cats comes to mind), Mike and I have not been able to give November all of the sand-side support she is entitled to. Unbeknown to us, she has become a truly sporty girl and this invitation to the State Titles took us totally by surprise.

No, our club didn't win the competition - which was fine. Frankly, some of those other under 8s were incredible. Think Russian gymnasts in swimmers with a Nipper hat and you get the idea. Man, are they motivated! Once a week training is fine around here, because after all, we do get to live in paradise : ) well, when it stops raining!

All around, it has been an excellent week. Very pleased to share it with you, too.

How about your kids? Any other sneaky sporting stars out there? I do know some super fast gifted fish in Brisbane - hi Catherine!
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