As a child, I spent the majority of my time outside playing with friends. However, when the sun went down and the street lights came on, building Legos became another way for me to escape reality. When I was about ten years old, my love for Lego’s grew. I harassed and begged my parents to take me to LEGOLAND, the massive Lego-inspired theme park near San Diego.
I harassed them so much they finally gave in and took me there.
The experience was breathtaking. I couldn’t keep my hands off of the building blocks, and even got the opportunity to build structures with some of the designers. There was an endless amount of Legos to play with at LEGOLAND, and I wanted to take them all back home with me. Look back now, Lego’s helped me learn patience, creativity, and taught me how to design something that is structurally sound.
My parents bought me so many Lego kits as a child, and I still have some of them in my garage. When my friends came over, sometimes we spent hours building creations and then taking them apart to make new things. These plastic blocks have been an important part of my life and they’ve taught me so much over the years. I must admit, however, the Lego blocks today are so much more innovative than the ones I played with as a child.
The Evolution of Legos
Lego has recently unveiled a new robotic system that teaches kids computer science (STEM) skills at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show that took place in Las Vegas, earlier this year.
The company’s Mindstorms platform for teens has been around since 2013, but the new and improved Lego kits are designed specifically for kid’s age seven and up to help boost their design skills. For adolescents, this means many kids-turned-adults will have fond memories of spending hours on the floor, assembling bridges, cities, and roadways from tiny plastic Lego building blocks. As it turns out, research on early childhood development shows that this time spent with Legos wasn’t just fun for preschoolers and elementary students, but actually helped them develop spatial reasoning and building skills.
Furthermore, the study also proved a few other interesting qualities that Lego’s have. For one, researchers discovered that the hands-on material helps students pick up mathematics more effectively. Which later showed a “markedly higher” performance on math assessments. Lego’s can also build social skills, boost critical reading and writing skills, and even help teach languages to ESL learners. Generally speaking, it appears that there’s a variety of benefits that come along with being a Lego lover from a young age.
They may not know it yet, but adolescents playing with Lego sets are also gearing up for the world of robotics competitions in their future. At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, for instance, Nebraska 4-H organizes a yearly league called the Nebraska First Lego League. The league is designed to utilize Lego-building skills to encourage interest in STEM subjects according to the report by the Daily Nebraskan. “We develop the curriculum, and we did it because we wanted more kids interested in the STEM and STEM careers,” says Bradley Barker, the associate professor at UNL.
How Lego Supports Child Development
Encourages Fine Motor Skills
As was mentioned before, Lego bricks come in a vast range of shapes and sizes, which are just what smaller hands need to learn how to assemble and take apart. These small twists and turns of their hands, fingers, and arms promote coordination and dexterity which children need for handwriting, crafting, and independent living.
Whether this is intentional or just a coincidence, through their manipulation of Lego bricks children learn about applying differential pressure; some bricks need a small amount of pressure when building, while others require a great deal. The benefits of this hands-on trial and error leaves room for learning. This is what makes the experience far more valuable than anything we can say as educators, and parents.
Playing is how children work at trying out new skills while perfecting others. Placing a random box of Lego pieces in front of them and unstructured time is essential to igniting their imagination and developing their creativity. In other words, these different sized pieces of Lego are so exciting because they can become a skyscraper, a massive bridge, or a spaceship that soars through the universe looking to explore Saturn’s rings.
Through imaginative play, children lose themselves in their fantasies. An anxious child might even lose all inhibitions when fighting off dragons, teaching their people, caring for injured animals, or saving the universe by using their superpowers.
Allows Children to Try New Skills Without Fear of Failure
Speaking of creativity, when children play, they are constantly learning new skills, which can then be applied to other areas of their life. Playing with Lego’s provides an understanding of spatial awareness, promotes a sense of innovation, and teaches mathematical concepts of symmetry, shape, and geometry.
In the long run, children learn so much more through Lego play because there is no fear of failure, and no pressure to make something that will woo the audience. Lego creations fall down when they are stacked too high, but not all our creations work out as planned. They can still always, however, start over from scratch and make improvements to what they’re building.
The possibilities for learning with Lego are endless.
Thanks for the read. Did I miss anything? What are some other ways Lego’s can enhance child development learning? Feel free to leave your comments below.