There can’t be many people around the world who haven’t heard of LEGO; we have either seen it in the toy store, theme park, playdate’s house, shopping mall, or even on the TV. Literally, LEGO has become part of our life.
I have been to Toys“R”Us in Time Square New York, and of course, were mesmerized by the LEGO architectures displayed in it, but it just never sparks my interest to build one.
When you have children, parents tend to explore all kinds of educational toys, and LEGO often comes on top of the parenting list. The core value of LEGO is a toy without conflict, and no gender division. Most parents love the branding image and idea offers behind LEGO. So, here I am ordering LEGOs for my little kids’ 3-years-old birthday!
The LEGO Group was founded in 1932 in Denmark by Ole Kirk Kristiansen. The colorful high-quality plastic building-blocks have become a massively popular game in the mid-20th century. The name ‘LEGO‘ means “leg godt” in Danish, which is translated as “play well”.
LEGO has become insanely popular for various reasons. The potential to create something on your own is infinite and never-ending. Undeniably, there are several benefits of playing with LEGOs, and experts suggest using this play-based learning toy at an early age.
8 Benefits of Playing LEGO
1. Improves fine motor skills, which allow your little kids to use the smaller muscles in their hands and fingers, as well as eye-hand coordination to put the little bricks together.
2. Encourage Spending quality time with your children. Playing LEGO with little kids requires guidance; therefore, it is one of the best tools to spend quality time with your children.
3. Expand creativity, using color blocks to stack into the art piece that your kids would like to create, the imagination can expand without limitations.
4. Develop problem-solving skills, building LEGO will practice patience and persistence. LEGO towels may fall, or the block pieces do not fit, or any form of struggles in the process could help little kids to develop problem-solving skills.
5. Improve kids’ learning skills, such as stress-control, lateral thinking, and planning. Putting LEGO pieces together or following the instruction may be easy for most adults. However, it demands enormous efforts for little kids to digest what has been instructed by you, search for pieces, and assemble them step by step.
6. Build confidence and self-esteem, when little kids are given the opportunity to create something on their own. It helps them to build confidence and self-esteem for an apparent reason. It allows kids to believe in themselves and understand their abilities are also like LEGO, infinity, and unlimited.
7. Understand the essential elements of life. Playing with LEGOs involves shapes, quantity, colors, figures, angles, and more. These little blocks work as a miniature version of all the elements in our daily life. Playing LEGO with kids requires communication, the languages can be used, and the vocabularies offered for multilingual children are extremely wide.
8. Improve concentration and attention span, LEGO needs patience, sometimes with planning and strategies. it will require concentration to complete the tasks. Eventually, improve little kids’ attention span whether it was done consciously or not.
Is LEGO the Best Toys for Kids?
Although LEGO is well known for benefiting children in various ways, I would also like to pinpoint the other perspectives about the game as parents. This is definitely not a criticism, it is a different angle.
First of all, LEGO has proven to improve fine motor skills for the little kids, but it does not guarantee to strengthen them into a perfect sturdy pair of hands. Improving children’s motor skills should balance with other activities such as practice scissor through art & craft, manipulate pencil through painting, age-appropriate household chores, cooking activities, etc.
Balance among all active plays for child development.
Second, LEGO was once a simple toy in the early days, and kids were stacking up just a few colorful blocks. They are usually in a square or rectangular shape. However, we see a big and tall tower of LEGO constructions nowadays. Most of them are expensive and provide LEGO-fans with step-by-step instructions; LEGO pieces can range from a few hundred different parts to a few thousand. LEGO has also become a decoration item in modern days, it is no longer just a few blocks of construction toys! I highly recommend less is more at an early age, the classic set is sufficient to begin with.
Keep it simple, don’t let the imagination disappear!
Last but not least, there are several LEGO® education available around the world nowadays, training children’s mathematics, engineering, and many more skills. However, promoting outdoor activity and family travel trips with little kids is as important as indoor games. Bringing kids to the park, exercising regularly, getting fresh air are all part of the outdoor movement that is essential for a happy and healthy kid.
LEGO is not a one size fits all activities.
Playing LEGO in a Multicultural Family
In a multicultural family that involves eastern and western cultures, we have two very different parenting styles, including playing with LEGO. I ordered the classic blocks, and it came with a building instruction booklet and packaged in colors.
I was, of course, the one who prefers to follow the instructions, separate those blocks by color, and play with discipline. I believe creativity should be done after understanding the current potential of it.
While the western father opened the packaged and mixed all of them at once. He believes in building whatever comes in our mind first without being influenced by the instruction; the guide may frame our creativity.
So, there is no right or wrong way, and this is what multicultural kids are dealing with; nonetheless, we figure out it may be the right balance for our kids. Mom’s playdate session involves the Chinese language with an instruction booklet, and the father mix Portuguese with English without the guide book.
Using LEGO as a Language Learning Toy for Multilingual Children
There are several language learning tools available nowadays, from video games, bilingual musical toys, to sound books. As a multilingual family, we love the idea of creative play through communications.
Here are a few ideas of how to use LEGO as a language learning toy for your multilingual children
1. Story Telling board Method
The storytelling board has always been our favorite way of teaching our multilingual children languages, and we called this game “Hello Friends!” in our house; We painted on paper boards and reused those unwanted toys, created characters for them, and played out our own story. We used the same technique with LEGO as well.
LEGO comes in figures; we created characters and names for them. Build a freestyle castle, play in a playground, or walk in the jungle. Throughout the process, we are engaging with children through a language. Parents can choose the preferred language during that session, and I would recommend keeping the language without mixing with others just to make the learning process more structured.
When you are using the storyboard technique, your vocabulary can go above and beyond without the restriction. The communication is solidly based on the interaction between you and the children. And that’s what we love about it.
2. Building Instructions Method
During my session with kids, we will always share the guide book and look for pieces together. There are a few vocabulary and phrases we reused often.
- The name of all Colors: Yellow, blue, brown, red, purple, orange, pink and more
- Figures: boy, girl, dog, frogs, and more.
- Objects: swing, slides, door, window, camera, motorcycle, castle and more
- What would you like to build today?
- Let’s build a …
- Can you please find me a red color block?
- Let’s find this block (pointing on the guidebook) and describe the shapes and the character of those blocks.
- Can you please help me to find it…?
- Please help me to put the block here.
- Show me where this block should go? Is it here?
- What are you searching for? Let’s help you. Please tell me what color, shape, or number of pieces you need?
- Oh no! the yellow square LEGO dropped on the floor, can you pick it up for me please?
- We just built a teddy bear, what’s its name?
- Let’s find the flag! We need it for the castle.
- We just finished a camera! I’ll show you how to take pictures.
- It’s okay, be patient!
- Take your time.
- Be gentle. It will fall.
- Push it down, be strong!
- You are doing great.
- Wow! We just completed it. High Five!
If we think about LEGO is a play-based learning tool that demands time, patience and constructions. Learning a language for multilingual kids is also the same.