Learning With LEGO®

Disclaimer: This Kids’ Blog post is aimed mainly at the parents of young children. Kids read on at your peril!

Kia ora!  Further to our recent post for kids about the wonderful world of LEGO®, we thought it might be a good idea to talk to parents about just how much value you can get out of a session of LEGO® play time with your kids.  We all know that LEGO® is lots of fun, super creative and a favourite of all ages, but one of the reasons we hold so many LEGO® sessions in libraries is because we use it as a tool for learning about literacy.  LEGO® is an excellent gateway to developing children’s literacy in a fun, informal way, and opens up a rich world of storytelling, world building, character development and language skills.

Hands picking up LEGO® pieces

We use several techniques to enrich LEGO® play time that you may like to try yourself next time you settle in to build with your kids.  Here are some examples:

20 Questions

As you build, play a game of 20 questions with your children where you each try to guess what the other is building.  Start with things like “Is it an animal?” or “Can I eat it?” and work your way through the characteristics until the item being built is guessed.  Throw in a few silly questions too, just to keep the interest going.

Theme setting

Set a loose theme for kids to build to.  For example “something you’d find in a city.” or “something with wings”.  This gets kids thinking about particular environments or themes and nudges their creativity into new pathways, particularly if your kids like to build the same thing over and over.

A LEGO® city scene

Searching and sharing

We’ve all had that moment where we’re looking for a particular type of LEGO® brick to build our creation, and are sorting through the pile to no avail.  Kids have sharp eyes, they’re excellent at spotting just the right brick.  But it’s also an opportunity to encourage sharing, kids that come to library LEGO® sessions often offer up bricks out of their own pile of LEGO® they are working with, or offer to break down something they’re working on to swap out for the brick another builder needs.  We always make sure to thank a child who shares the LEGO® and often ask them if there is something we can find for them.

It’s also an opportunity to work on colours, shapes and numbers.  Kids looking for a particular brick can count how many studs (the correct name for the bumps on LEGO® bricks) wide and long a piece is, ask them what colour, shape and size the particular brick they need is.  Or you can ask them to find groups of bricks, for example “I need red bricks.” or “Can you find me bricks that are square?”  Sorting and selecting LEGO® bricks develops many skills while also having fun.

Pattern making

When building with LEGO®, use shapes and/or colours to create patterns in your build.  Stripes, spots, indents, small and large – there are many ways you can incorporate patterns in your build, which in turn enriches skills like counting, colour, texture, shape and pattern recognition.

Emotions and expressions

An assortment of Lego minifig heads with different facial expressions

LEGO® minifigs and other bricks come in a large variety of faces and body decorations.  They are excellent in teaching emotions, expressions and facial features.  Ask your child if the character they are building with is a happy or angry character.  Ask them to find a minifig that has glasses, or has blue pants, or a tail.

Story and character building

When your child has built their LEGO® creation, spend some time encouraging them to tell you about what they have built.  Children approach LEGO® building in different ways.  Some like to build elaborate scenes, so you can encourage them to tell you the story of the scene.  Others prefer to build a character, like an animal or person, which you can ask them to describe the character’s personality, tell the story of the character, where they might live or what they might eat.  If your child builds machinery or architecture, ask them about the features of their build.  How does it work?  What is it used for?

There are lots of other ways building with LEGO® encourages learning through play, and it’s a fun way for you to spend time with them.  Kids love to build LEGO® with adults and it often creates a comfortable atmosphere for conversations about other things happening in their lives.  It promotes relaxation and concentration.  Depending on your child’s age and skill levels, you can scale the type of learning to suit and most importantly, have fun!  If you need a little more inspiration, we have lots of books about LEGO®, which you can find here.

Who knows, you might even discover you have some shared interests!

A row of Stormtrooper minifigs face away from the viewer, except the second in the row which is turned to face forward.

(Images in this blog post courtesy of Pixabay)

Programme Spotlight: Baby Rock and Rhyme!

Disclaimer: This Kids’ Blog post is aimed mainly at the parents of young children. Kids read on at your peril!

Kia ora! Those of you who read this blog regularly may be familiar with a number of the regular events and programmes we run for children and families in our libraries across the city. One of our most perennially popular programmes is Baby Rock and Rhyme. This super fun programme runs at eight of our libraries weekly, and is designed to help you as a parent foster your baby’s literacy journey while building a stronger bond with them through reading, singing, movement and play. It’s also an awesome way to meet other new parents and make new friends who are also on the at times rocky road of the journey of parenthood. Read on to find out some of the ways you can make the most out of Baby Rock and Rhyme with your little one.

A librarian leads a Baby Rock and Rhyme session in a brightly-decorated library. A large crowd of parents and babies are in attendance, some sitting on the ground, others on the terraces.

Baby Rock and Rhyme at Karori Library with superstar librarian Clare

  1. Attend whenever and wherever you can. At this age, your little one really benefits from repetitive learning processes and, as much as possible, a steady routine. Baby Rock and Rhyme is totally free to attend, and there is a session on somewhere in the city every weekday — we warmly invite you to come along whenever (and wherever) you can. Here is the complete list of locations and times around the city:
  2. Listen to music with your baby at home as well. If you’re coming to Baby Rock and Rhyme, you’re already doing an amazing job! Ka rawe! But it’s only half the equation. Did you know you can actually download the official Wellington City Libraries Baby Rock and Rhyme album from Bandcamp? You can also find the CD in our library collection along with a huge selection of music CDs full of songs for babies and young children. Why not put on the album, give your little one a shaker or rattle to hold, and have a good ol’ boogie together? It’ll feel great, and it’s also a fabulous way to reinforce the literacy steps that begin with you, your baby, and your librarian at Baby Rock and Rhyme.
  3. Be really present during the session. Remember that Baby Rock and Rhyme isn’t really about the librarian performing for your child. What they’re really doing up there is modelling ways for you to interact with your baby to foster their physical and intellectual development and kick-start their learning journey. So, when you arrive, make sure you park the buggy, put your phone away, and prepare for some real quality time with your little one. Sit with your child in your lap and really be present with them — talk to them, encourage them, and guide them throughout the session. If they start acting up or grizzling, it’s fine! We understand! If you’re there with them, you can comfort them or remove them from the room for a minute or two to calm down. If you tune out, your child is missing out on half the benefit of being there.
  4. Read, read, read! After your Baby Rock and Rhyme session, why not ask your librarian for help choosing books for your little one? All of our libraries have large collections of board books perfectly suited to the rough treatment they sometimes receive — we really don’t mind if these get damaged as they’re there to be used, so please don’t worry about that! Our librarians are always happy to help you pick out the perfect set of books for you to enjoy at home. We understand sometimes the huge range of books can be a bit intimidating, and it can be hard to know if you’re making the right choice for your child. Just remember that at this age, there’s really no way you can go wrong with books for your young learner — as long as you are reading together, you are doing everything right.
  5. Ask for help if you need it. Parenting can sometimes be a lonely and confusing path to travel — but it is also one of life’s most rewarding experiences. With Baby Rock and Rhyme, as with any of our library programmes for young people, our librarians understand this, and want to help you as much as they can. Don’t be afraid to ask us for help — before, during, or after the session, whether you need help finding books for your little one, accessing parenting resources through the library, or getting in touch with Plunket or other local support groups. You are also more than welcome to email the Children’s Librarian if you need help or advice regarding books or literacy for your child. You don’t need to feel like you are distracting us from other work when you reach out for assistance — helping you is our work, and we are always more than happy to do what we can.

Family Fun Calendars

Up on our website now are the monthly family fun calendars. We make a new calendar each month that’s chock-a-block with fun learning activates that you can do. They are especially useful for upcoming wintery rainy days where you are bored and stuck indoors.

You can pick one up from your local library each month. Or download and print for the Fun Stuff page.

Check back each month for the latest calendar.

(P.S. We would love to see the things you make and do from our calendars. You can share them with us and everyone through our Facebook and Twitter streams)