This article first appeared here: http://lego.featured.yahoo.com/post/125410540036/how-to-bring-out-your-childs-personal-sense-of
What trains a child to be focused, develops his patience and encourages his creativity?
No surprises here but I’ve always found my answer in LEGO. Give my kids a box of LEGO bricks and I am likely to see them play for hours on end. From the Quadro and Duplo they were used to playing as toddlers, my children have now progressed to the basic-brick level where they have the opportunity to play without structure and to build and take apart as necessary, in more ways that they could have imagined.
I love what LEGO does for my children. They come up with the most awesome themed LEGO sets. The themed LEGO sets that the stores sell come with specific instructions which encourage children to build with what the LEGO Learning Institute describes as ‘systematic creativity’, which is defined as a “particular form of creativity that combines logic and reasoning with playfulness and imagination”. In every themed set, step-by-step illustrations help the builder visualise, make sense of shape, size, angle, positioning and develop cognitive awareness of the different elements of building. After the themed set is built, it invites the child to imagine and play – although the play lends itself to the theme suggested by the set that’s built.
In building the themed set, a child would have had the opportunity to focus, sit attentively, and patiently flesh out an image, brick by brick.
Now, what happens the day after, or after some time, is what gets really interesting.
For a while, a child can live with a model he’s built; but trust me, the novelty of the pictured toy will soon wear off and it becomes all-too-tempting to break it up and build something else. How much more awesome is it when you get to make a supersonic giant of a plane combined with a helicopter that’s overrun by wizards and random minifigs ranging from a pirate rocker to a two-faced cop atop an alligator? After all, these are the dreams that LEGO play’s made of.
Recently the Kao kids have been given yet another wonderful to sit attentively and direct their focus on building something. After the last ‘March Holiday Special Project’ which they did together that cemented their sibling love, they were all ready to conquer yet another themed set. This time round, it was still my eldest who could last through the entire building process, constructing both the big and small; the younger two helped out by putting the minifigures together and affixing the stickers to the respective items that called for them.
It took Ben two hours to put this together without any adult help. He’s gotten so much better in understanding the construction logic, and is able to create this LEGO City Training Jet Transporter effortlessly.
But watch what happened barely an hour later, when all three of them started playing with the created set together. Apparently, some ‘explosion’ was planted by a baddie and then there was half a plane left and the original creation very much destroyed (I hear the baddie is Nat). Something’s got to be done and things needed to be rebuilt. Ben was a little bummed, but what about LEGO that he knows and knows well, is that he can always make something awesome again. Exposing him to LEGO play at a young age has given him that confidence and resilience – he knows there’s always something bigger and better he can build, and nothing stays constant forever.
And thus began the creativity play, spanning over days – unhindered, unrestrained, unimposed. Everyone started building their own versions of their imagination, played together and had lots of fun while at it (they didn’t forget the jet transporter but it was no longer ALL about it). Ben led his siblings by showing them what he could build, and Nat and Becks quickly caught on, following some basic logic of adding wings and wheels, and fitting one another into their imagined LEGOverse.
I’m always in awe of how much mileage a themed set has. I’d thought my children would be playing around the theme of the airport and have flight-related conversations. But there were little ponies, triceratops (that was made by Nat, a figure with a long green rectangle head), wizards and men on stilts, someone needing badly to perform a balancing act on his head, a bald witch with two heads, plus rogue Vikings that are planning to escape on a boat, and a Mexican cop all ready to help people check-in their flight.
It was altogether refreshing, amusing and amazing.
My children never fail to surprise me.
LEGO never fails to surprise all of us.