Learning during the summer can be a challenge. Honestly, as a home schooling family we love summer break. People ask me regularly how we supplement learning during the summer and I laugh. We don’t have much of a regiment during the Summer. We tend to limit media and encourage imaginative play. Outside play and getting physical exercise are key for our kids. Imaginative play to keep our brains in good shape is important too. My goal is to encourage learning activities that feel like fun. We spend the entire school year with a list, summer should be more relaxed. One of our favorite ways to keep our brains active is learning with LEGO.
All three of our kids are busy, but our son takes the cake! My son is busier than most. Sitting still is not his forte. While he does love to read and is very smart, traditional learning is not his favorite activity. Even imaginative play tends to be on the hyper active side for him. Something we noticed very early on was that LEGO had a calming effect on him. My brother was the same way; wild and energetic, but he settled into LEGO for hours. Like his uncle, LEGO models were an opportunity for our son to recharge his emotional and physical “batteries”. We encouraged this love of LEGO at every turn.
We started with Duplo sets but noticed our little man graduated to ‘big kid’ LEGO sets faster than the age suggestion. His attention to detail was impressive. Small piece with lots of instruction could keep him busy for hours if not days, and he loved it. While putting together the large brand new set was a fun challenge, he really loves creating on his own. Years of LEGO ownership has turned into cubby boxes full of LEGO bricks in every shape and size. We encourage both kinds of play! He is absolutely learning with LEGO whether he is following instructions or not.
While building a set there are so many steps that build learning skills. Literacy is improved by paying close attention to details in the instruction manual. I have even seen my son motivated to look a book up in the dictionary to make sure he understood the instructions. LEGO sets promote thinking in three dimensions, which is not something that comes to children naturally sometimes. My son’s fine motor skills were slightly behind others his age, cutting and writing were especially difficult. While we could have insisted on practice cutting and handwriting every single day; our teacher actually suggested taking some of that time to just play with LEGO. LEGO was a positive thing in his life that did not feel like a chore, but it would help him. LEGO sets became a source of positive reinforcement as well! Positive behavior and self control were rewarded with a new set.
Learning does not stop at a newly completed set. Sets might take days to complete and he would bask in his new toy. He would set up environments and let his imagination go wild. Magic was soon to follow, always. At some point during his imaginative play the master builder would come through. The designer of the toy clearly forgot to add this or that. He’d dive into his extra bucket and start enhancing his set. Broken chunks of the original set used to bother me, but now it is a source of pride and joy. Watching him devise a plan and then follow it through is pretty incredible. The pride that he has from showing me a completely LEGO set is only matched by showing me something he made up all on his own.
Over the years, LEGO has grown with him and I am sure we have years of learning with LEGO ahead of us. What started as Jake and the Neverland Pirate sets has grown into Star Wars and Marvel sets. Three in one sets and those that celebrate community heroes like police officers and fire fighters are also favorites. LEGOLAND in California continues to be one of his favorite sources of fun and learning. LEGO is simply a huge part of our life, not just because it is his favorite toy, but also because it is a stealth learning tool!
Below is a quick video of the big kids talking about the latest set they created…….
We found some of our favorite LEGO Star Wars sets in our Amazon store. Check out all of the options, including the one you see above! Have fun learning with LEGO!