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)

Matariki 2021 at your libraries!

Tēnā koutou katoa, e te whānau!

From 2 – 10 July, Wellington City Libraries is celebrating Matariki with a range of events, crafts, storytelling sessions, and experiences for whānau and tamariki all over our city. Don’t forget to also check out the Wellington City Council website to find out about the huge range of exciting activities taking place outside our libraries during Matariki.

Why do we celebrate Matariki? The star cluster Matariki (also known as the Pleiades) reappears in the dawn sky about Aotearoa in late May or early June. The new moon following the rising of Matariki signals the Māori New Year. Customarily, this was a time to remember the deceased of the past year and to plan for the new year. Today, Matariki has been revived as a celebration of people, culture, language, spirituality, and history. It is a time for whānau and friends to come together to reflect on the past 12 months and look forward to the year ahead. When you add your star to our purapura whetū, we invite you to send a message to someone you love, or reflect on the year that has just passed.

Some of the awesome crafty things you can find to make Matariki art with at your local library


Nau mai haere mai ki te whare pukapuka ki te whakanui i a Matariki! Join us for these fabulous events happening at library branches across the city:

Beginner’s Guide to Whakapapa

Join us for this short talk aimed at giving people with little to no experience researching their whakapapa some useful tips when navigating the resources accessible on the WCL website. Adults are very welcome.

  • Tuesday 6 July, 12.30pm at Te Awe Brandon St Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Awe

Explore the Stars in VR

Celebrate Matariki by joining us at Te Awe Library to take turns exploring the night sky in virtual reality. The stars have never seemed quite so close to touch! This event is great for mātua, rangatahi, and tamariki alike.

  • Friday 9 July, 2.00 – 4.00pm at Te Awe Brandon St Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Awe

Kōhunga Kōrero o Matariki

Nau mai haere mai ki te whare pukapuka ki te whakanui i a Matariki! Pakiwaitara i roto i te reo Māori. E 30 meneti pakiwaitara, rotarota, waiata hoki i roto i te reo Māori nō ngā kōhungahunga me ō rātou mātua kaitiaki. Join us for these special Matariki storytimes in te reo Māori! Featuring stories, songs and rhymes in te reo Māori, these 30-minute storytimes are open to anyone, and are recommended for children aged 2-6 years and their caregivers.

  • Friday 2 July, 10.30am at Johnsonville Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Waitohi
  • Tuesday 6 July, 10.30am at Newtown Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Omārōrō
  • Friday 9 July, 10.30am at Johnsonville Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Waitohi

Let’s Go LEGO®: Matariki Whetū!

Let’s build – let’s explore – let’s create! Come along to your library to create your LEGO® masterpiece. These sessions all feature special Matariki-themed activities as we celebrate this festive time with our friends and whānau. Our LEGO® activities are perfect for tamariki of all ages to participate in with their whānau.

  • Friday 2 July, 3.30pm at Khandallah Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Tari-kākā
  • Sunday 4 July, 11.00am at Te Awe Brandon St Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Awe
  • Thursday 8 July, 3.30pm at Cummings Park Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Korimako
  • Friday 8 July, 3.30pm at Johnsonville Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Waitohi

Matariki Storytimes

Come along and celebrate Matariki at your local whare pukapuka, or library, with Matariki-themed stories and waiata with our librarians. Our storytimes are family-friendly and fun for all ages. Weekday sessions are all at 10.30am; weekend sessions are all at 2.00pm.

  • Friday 2 July, 10.30am:
    • He Matapihi Molesworth Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o He Matapihi
    • Wadestown Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Ōtari
  • Saturday 3 July, 2.00pm:
    • Johnsonville Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Waitohi
    • Te Awe Brandon St Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Awe
  • Monday 5 July, 10.30am:
    • Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Takapū o Patukawenga
    • Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Awa-a-taia
  • Tuesday 6 July, 10.30am:
    • Brooklyn Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Moe-rā
    • Karori Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Māhanga
  • Wednesday 7 July, 10.30am:
    • Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Korimako
    • Karori Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Māhanga
    • Newtown Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Omārōrō
    • Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Awa-a-taia
  • Thursday 8 July, 10.30am:
    • Arapaki Manners Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Arapaki
    • Island Bay Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Tapu Te Ranga
    • Miramar Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Motu-kairangi
    • Te Awe Brandon St Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Awe
  • Friday 9 July, 10.30am:
    • He Matapihi Molesworth Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o He Matapihi
    • Wadestown Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Ōtari
  • Saturday 10 July, 2.00pm:
    • Johnsonville Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Waitohi

Matariki Storytimes: Virtual Edition!

Whakarongo mai, tamariki mā, pākeke mā! Celebrate Matariki wherever you are with our Matariki online storytimes. He korero paki i te reo Māori ēnei; these stories are in te reo Māori. The stories will be streaming live on our Wellington City Libraries Facebook page, and will remain up for your enjoyment throughout the holidays!

  • Thursday 8 July, 7.30pm — online!
  • Friday 9 July, 7.30pm — online!
  • Saturday 10 July, 7.30pm — online!

Pakiwaitara Matariki: Bilingual Storytelling

Join us at your local whare pukapuka for these special bilingual storytimes in celebration of Matariki! Featuring stories, songs and rhymes in te reo Māori and English, these 30-minute storytimes are open to anyone, and are recommended for children aged 2-6 years and their caregivers.

  • Saturday 3 July, 2.00pm at Karori Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Māhanga
  • Saturday 10 July, 11.00am at Cummings Park Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Korimako

Puoro Matariki: Stories and Music

Come along to Johnsonville Library on the first Tuesday of each month to enjoy a half-hour mash-up of stories and music. Literary and musical worlds will collide as we introduce your budding muso (and budding reader, of course!) to a world of rhythm, rhyme, song and dance from across the globe using stories, percussion instruments, and loads of imagination. Join us on the 6th of July for this special Matariki-themed session for all ages!

  • Tuesday 6 July, 10.30am at Johnsonville Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Waitohi

Whetū Toi: CRAFTerschool

Join us for this special after-school Matariki craft session! Make your very own Matariki constellation using one of our designs, or let your creative juices flow and create your own!

  • Monday 5 July, 3.30pm at Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Takapū o Patukawenga
  • Wednesday 7 July, 3.30pm at Miramar Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Motu-kairangi
  • Wednesday 7 July, 3.30pm at Johnsonville Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Waitohi

Whetū Toi: CRAFTivity

Bust the indoor boredom with a free Arts & Crafts session for tamariki, rangatahi and the whole whānau on Saturday mornings from 10.30am – 11.30 at He Matapihi Molesworth Library. At this session, we’ll be exploring Matariki with a simple craft project to be enjoyed by all!

  • Saturday 3 July, 10.30am at He Matapihi Molesworth Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o He Matapihi

Nō reira, nau mai, haere mai ki ōu tātou whare pukapuka ki te whakanui i tēnēi wā tino hirahira! So come on down to your library to celebrate this special time!

Purapura Whetū: A Matariki Festival with Your Libraries

Tēnā koutou katoa, e te whānau!

This July, Wellington City Libraries is celebrating Matariki with Purapura Whetū, a special festival of events, crafts, storytelling, and reflection for whānau and tamariki all over our city.

As well as all the programmes listed below, each of our libraries will have special crafting stations set up where you can make your very own star to add to our city-wide purapura whetū; a pattern, or web of stars.

Why do we celebrate Matariki? The star cluster Matariki (also known as the Pleiades) reappears in the dawn sky about Aotearoa in late May or early June. The new moon following the rising of Matariki signals the Māori New Year. Customarily, this was a time to remember the deceased of the past year and to plan for the new year. Today, Matariki has been revived as a celebration of people, culture, language, spirituality, and history. It is a time for whānau and friends to come together to reflect on the past 12 months and look forward to the year ahead. When you add your star to our purapura whetū, we invite you to send a message to someone you love, or reflect on the year that has just passed.

Come down to your library to make your whetū (star) and add it to our constellation!


Nau mai haere mai ki te whare pukapuka ki te whakanui i a Matariki! As well as the Purapura Whetū craft activity happening at every branch, there are many other fabulous events to look out for celebrating Matariki during the school holidays:

Kōhunga Kōrero o Matariki
Nau mai haere mai ki te whare pukapuka ki te whakanui i a Matariki! Pakiwaitara i roto i te reo Māori. E 30 meneti pakiwaitara, rotarota, waiata hoki i roto i te reo Māori nō ngā kōhungahunga me ō rātou mātua kaitiaki. Join us for these special Matariki storytimes in te reo Māori! Featuring stories, songs and rhymes in te reo Māori, these 30-minute storytimes are open to anyone, and are recommended for children aged 2-6 years and their caregivers.

  • Friday 10 July, 10.30am at Johnsonville Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Waitohi
  • Monday 13 July, 10.30am at Karori Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Māhanga
  • Friday 17 July, 10.30am at Johnsonville Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Waitohi

Making Matariki Stars
Join us for this special Matariki craft session! Make your very own Matariki star using one of our designs, or let your creative juices flow and create your own! Then, we will add your star to our purapura whetū — our pattern of stars — for everyone to enjoy and admire.

  • Monday 13 July, 11.00am at Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Takapū o Patukawenga

Matariki By Torchlight
Head down to the library at twilight for this special evening of Matariki and Aotearoa-themed stories and songs under the starlight (or clouds!). Bring your own torch and come along in your PJs ready for some heart-warming bedtime stories and songs.

  • Monday 13 July, 6.00pm at Brooklyn Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Moe-rā

Matariki Music Makers: Making Taonga Whakatangitangi
Come along and celebrate Matariki by crafting music makers inspired by the porotiti, and making Matariki stars. You can take your creations home, or display them at our libraries during our #purapurawhetu Matariki festival.

  • Friday 10 July, 2.00pm at Brooklyn Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Moe-rā

Matariki Online Storytimes
Whakarongo mai, tamariki mā, pākeke mā! Celebrate Matariki wherever you are with our Matariki online storytimes. He korero paki i te reo Māori ēnei; these stories are in te reo Māori. The stories will be streaming live on our Wellington City Libraries Facebook page, and will remain up for your enjoyment throughout the holidays!

  • Saturday 4 July, 7.30pm — online!
  • Sunday 5 July, 7.30pm — online!
  • Monday 6 July, 7.30pm — online!

Matariki Storytimes
Come along and celebrate Matariki at your local whare pukapuka, or library, with Matariki-themed stories and waiata with our librarians. Then, why not try your hand at making Matariki stars at our crafting stations? There will be a range of activities available for your whānau.

  • Tuesday 7 July, 10.30am at Khandallah Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Tarikākā
  • Wednesday 8 July, 10.30am at Karori Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Māhanga
  • Monday 13 July, 10.30am at Wadestown Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Ōtari
  • Wednesday 15 July, 10.30am at Cummings Park Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Korimako

String Bean Puppets: Once in a Full Moon
Come along and celebrate Matariki at your local library with Anna Bailey and her string bean puppets! Anna’s puppets will be helping her perform the magical tale “Once in a Full Moon.” One evening, a lonely kiwi looks up in the sky and sees something remarkable… can kiwis fly after all?

  • Monday 13 July, 2.00pm at Karori Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Māhanga
  • Tuesday 14 July, 11.00am at He Matapihi Molesworth Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o He Matapihi
  • Wednesday 15 July, 2.00pm at Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Te Awa-a-Taia
  • Friday 17 July, 2.00pm at Johnsonville Library/Te Whare Pukapuka o Waitohi

Nō reira, nau mai, haere mai ki ōu tātou whare pukapuka ki te whakanui i tēnēi wā tino hirahira! So come on down to your library to celebrate this special time!

Special Storytelling at Tawa Library

Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library are hosting a special te reo Maori storytelling session this week! Perfect for 2-6 year olds and their caregivers. Come along to listen to actor and storyteller Toa Waaka weave stories and legends in Maori and English. A perfect opportunity to learn and experience te reo Maori through stories – all are welcome!

Tawa Library, Wednesday 17th November 2010, 10.30-11.15am, Free!