Fun At Home & In The Classroom
The LEGO® brick is notable, both as one of the most iconic toys to come out of the twentieth century and as one of the most effective weapons ever developed in the eternal war waged by children against their parents. The absolute best thing about those unassuming, brightly-colored (or black, or gray, or brown, or – worse – CLEAR) caltrops hiding in your carpet, however, is not that they’re fun to play and build with, but that they’re fun to play and build and learn with. LEGO® bricks are educational and are finding their way into classrooms all over the world to help young children learn basic skills.
LEGO® bricks are remarkably good at allowing a child to enhance his or her own imaginations, as well. It isn’t just using the blocks to learn numbers – they can also create jungle-scapes, stage naval battles, or just build their dream home. No matter what they’re doing, when kids play with LEGO® bricks, (or, really, any similar building block toys; though, more tech-focused organizations have begun turning to Minecraft for similar reasons, plus coding), they’re expanding their minds.
Visual, Tactile, & Kinetic Learners
The most important takeaway is that these bricks enable learning and help to provide teachers with more strategies for teaching. Visual, tactile, and kinetic learners stand to make great strides in using these varied strategies. The possibilities are limitless. All the teacher really needs are a few LEGO® sets, a LEGO® compatible baseplate, and a few ideas.
Large Baseplates for Tables: A Strong Base for Basic Math and More
One of the easiest implementations for teachers, especially those whose classrooms center around group tables, is to just get a few large LEGO® baseplates for those tables. A LEGO® compatible slab of 24”x48” (8 ft2, the largest default size offered by Slab Dream Lab) is about the same size as the tabletop for a regular four-foot table, which might normally seat six students, providing equal access to each child with no need for teaming, sharing, or worrying about kids bickering over not getting turns.
This means that every student is engaged at the level at which they’re most comfortable: Tim is using LEGO® bricks to construct visual aids for himself in which each brick is equal to ‘one’, and working through math problems on his own; Sarah is using color-coded bricks with words attached – blue bricks are nouns, red are verbs, yellow ones are adjectives – and crafting sentences to get a better understanding of how those sentences are constructed grammatically; Susan, being an auditory learner, isn’t really doing much with her bricks, but she uses them to give her hands something to do so her mind can focus on what her teacher is saying, just sticking bricks to the board, sometimes making a tower, sometimes grouping like colors together.
LEGO® Compatible Baseplate Strategies
There are innumerable valid strategies and approaches to use in helping children learn. The manufacturer is perfectly aware of these uses and how valuable they are, and have set up initiatives to support educators and education.
Of course, the best part is that you don’t necessarily need to get large LEGO® compatible baseplates for tables – each child can have a smaller slab that is theirs to work on if that’s easier. This approach is still viable for group projects, as well, because Slab Dream Lab’s LEGO® compatible baseplates snap together to allow for larger building spaces with no seams or lips to disrupt the expansion. This effectively allows you to have the largest baseplate imaginable.
Did You Know:
LEGO® bricks were named “Toy of the Century” in 2000 by Fortune Magazine and the British Association of Toy Retailers. Other notables beaten out for the title include Barbie, G.I. Joe, Stretch Armstrong, and the eternally-loved Teddy Bear.
Thinking at Angles: LEGO® Brick Wall Displays in the Classroom
Wall displays have become a trend in the last few years, appearing prominently in maker spaces all over the country, and they aren’t terribly complicated. Turn a LEGO® compatible base plate vertical, mount it on a wall (or a frame, and then a wall), and you have a wall display. These spaces can be used in classrooms for a number of functions, ranging from organizational to disciplinary.
These spaces are more communal than personal, though, so while the functions are many, they are not the same as those served by tabletop slabs or individual slates. Instead, these LEGO® brick walls become foci of learning when placed into a classroom, akin to the role traditionally served by a chalk/whiteboard. So when the class is discussing a story, the teacher can use the wall to illustrate the story. When the class is studying geometry, the teacher can allow a student to demonstrate a shape in LEGO® bricks on the wall. If it involves the chance to get up and play with blocks, students will be more interested in the lesson at hand.
Then, other teachers may prefer to use the space for other things: student-constructed art, organizational issues such as a display of the date or other things, or as their in-class reward system (“great job, James, go move your block/flag/etc”). It’s a flexible tool to use for any instructor.
Did You Know:
Lyle Thompson, the founder of Slab Dream Lab, started the company as a DIY project after getting fed up with existing LEGO® compatible baseplates when his son’s most recent creation was destroyed while trying to move it, intact, for display.
The Flexibility of LEGO® Compatible Baseplates as an Educational Tool
LEGO® bricks have been one of the world’s favorite toys for almost seventy years now. Even with the rise of video games and various electronics as commonplace, yet flashy, competitors, LEGO® bricks have endured and will continue to do so, especially as the world embraces the evidence of how useful the humble plastic block can be in the classroom.
Just as the number of things that can be built with LEGO® bricks is virtually limitless, so, too, is the number of applications for bricks as an educational tool: limitless. To underestimate their effectiveness is nothing short of folly.
Give a Child a LEGO® Brick…
As the old adage goes: “Give a child LEGO® bricks, and they will build wondrous creations and cripple their parents; teach a child with LEGO® bricks, and they will learn with reckless abandon.”
Or something like that, anyhow.