LEGO Learners Play Well

Instead of giving looters and rioters jail sentences, perhaps we should give them Lego instead. Not to throw, but to build and ‘play well’. The benefits are multifarious.

Lego stimulates unlimited creativity, social interaction, team building and lateral thinking. It helps build dexterity and is a great way for learners of all ages to learn about construction and design. On top of all this, Lego helps to develop maths skills, pattern skills, problem-solving and communication.

According to the LEGO education manifesto, children must be supported to be systematically creative learners, active learners and collaborative learners helping each other to learn and play through the shared language of Lego bricks.

Lego can be used to help join logic and reasoning with creativity and provide children with the opportunity to make things they see in the real world, experiment with their surroundings  and get hands-on and minds-on with their  environment. Lego play and learning sets are just the job for helping children learn more about the communities they live in.

Did you hear about a container filled with millions of Lego pieces that fell into the sea off Cornwall in 1997?

The Tokio Express was hit by a wave tilting the ship 60 degrees one way and then 40 degrees back. As a result 62 containers were lost overboard about 20 miles off Land’s End and one was filled with 4.8 million pieces of LEGO bound for New York. Instead of remaining at the bottom of the ocean, they are still washing up on Cornish beaches today.

When I first heard the news I tried to persuade my family we should move to Cornwall such is my love for LEGO. The move didn’t happen but my fascination with these beautiful pieces of plastic is as strong as ever.

You can’t go wrong with Lego, the world’s most famous construction toy. But how accessible is it for whole-class purposes? The main criticism of Lego is why it has to be so expensive, after all, pieces of plastic can’t cost that much to make.

Despite the cost issue, there isn’t much to pick fault at. Lego is fun, challenging, rewarding and engaging with universal appeal. This is cross-curriculum heaven. Connect, construct, contemplate and continue – Lego has it all.

I get the feeling that if I was on a desert island and I could only bring one object with me, then a set of Lego would be a hot contender.

In recent, international, comparative, educational studies, Denmark, the birthplace of Lego, gets a top ranking position when measuring student well-being and motivation.

Lego occupy a unique and unrivalled position in the marketplace. For starters it has no real competition, its reputation is second to none and it generates a universal excitement, playful learning and creativity that measures 9.5 on the Richter scale.

But if you think that Lego is just a load of plastic bricks and minifigures ideal for a rainy day in primary school then you’re very much mistaken. Lego is much more than that. It is a global phenomenon, it is a subculture, a cult, a community, an educational movement, a way of life and for some an addiction. Just when you think Lego can’t get any better, it does, simply because it is so versatile. It’s a new toy everyday but a toy with serious educational applications.

My doctor once said to me, “On a scale of 1 to stepping on a piece of LEGO, how much pain are you in?” I thought that was brilliant. Bare footed and sock wearing adults everywhere will know the unique pain of stepping onto a sharp piece of LEGO that has been left on the floor.

Now you can buy  padded anti-Lego slippers to prevent those eye-watering excruciating moments. For me though stepping on LEGO is an occupational hazard and all part of the experience and anything anti-LEGO seems alien. I’m staying bare footed.

I have a huge box of LEGO at home which contains thousands of pieces from a variety of projects I have built over the years.

The box is a real mess of pieces but it a massive pool of creativity waiting to happen. Whatever gets built gets built from my imagination. Critics argue that LEGO has become less creative over the years with too many specialised pieces and instruction manuals.

They say that single-outcome sets encourage preservation rather than creative destruction and so children hit a brick wall when it comes to the re-building of something new and unique. I disagree because for teachers problem-based LEGO models that have links to the curriculum are superb as they offer opportunities to be creative in entirely new ways. The latest models are sophisticated, intelligent and creative masterpieces that can snowball ideas and inspire new ways of thinking.

It is easy to wax lyrical about LEGO Education because they have given the bricks brains, invented some truly educational projects and fortified it all with clever thinking and research powered by the habits of mind model.

LEGO Education have their own agenda and that is all about delivering learning impact and this resource certainly delivers. It gifts children and teachers with the opportunity to engage with a unique and connected learning process that is hands-on and well-thought out.

LEGO is a bricktacular resource as fit as a fiddle for the creative and digital era. Let’s hope I get some for Christmas!

I think it’s a no-brainer to say that every class should therefore have a cupboard full of Construction sets for everyone to play with.

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