by Mary Prather M.Ed
It’s been said so often that play is the work of childhood. Fred Rogers said, “Play gives children the chance to practice what they are learning.” It makes sense, then, that the most basic of skills for children (including speaking and writing) should be approached through PLAY.
In our home, that play almost always involves LEGO bricks!
Start with a simple set of LEGO bricks. Set a timer for 10 minutes and challenge your child to a “speed build”. (If your child doesn’t like timers, just let them build until they have a creation they are proud of.) They can build anything they want – just be creative!
Encourage your child to tell you about their creation. While they are speaking, gently remind them of basic speaking skills
- speak slowly
- maintain eye contact
- do not say “ummmm”
- start with a topic sentence
I taught a class of children for 10 weeks using this method with LEGO bricks and it was highly successful. They so wanted to share their creations with their friends, and even the most quiet child in the class learned to present well.
Writing can also be encouraged with these wonderful little bricks.
Start with simple writing prompts. Starters like, “Build your favorite holiday LEGO scene and write a story about it” or “Your favorite minifig is hanging on the Christmas tree. What does he see?” are great jumping off points for your student’s writing.
Remember, when encouraging writing, praise the efforts made and don’t be overly critical about spelling or grammar. There is plenty of time to work on that in the upper grades. When our children are little we need to instill a LOVE of writing. I’m convinced the window for developing that love is very small.
A LEGO activity that also helps enhance the speaking and writing process is simply responding to reading through brick building. As I read chapter books aloud to my children, there is always LEGO brick building taking place. Normally, it evolves into a creation about the story we are reading.
This creation is the perfect vehicle for me to use in the speaking and writing process. “Tell me about your creation and how it is like the story.” “What part of the story did you just build?” “Can you build your favorite part of the story?” Sometimes I can then convince my nine year old to write up a description of his scene or something clever along those lines.
The times where I’ve seen the most progress, however, haven’t been planned by me. They are spontaneous events – when I have just allowed PLAY with LEGO bricks to occur, that I’ve seen the most growth in my children.
If you are interested in learning more, please visit the LEGO learning section of my website. Here I have a free downloadable 10 week LEGO class, free LEGO writing prompts for all of the seasons, minifigures to color, and much more. I also highly recommend LEGO® Education products. One product in particular, the StoryStarter, is exceptional for encouraging storytelling with your children. (You can find my review of that also on my site.)
Mary Prather writes at Homegrown Learners about homeschool, LEGO education, and music education in your homeschool. She is also the author of SQUILT, a music appreciation curriculum for children. She holds an undergraduate degree in Music Education from Southern Methodist University, and a Master of Education from Georgia State University. She is a lover of all things family, education and blogging!
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