In a world filled with gimmicky toys that flash and sing, there is still one old-fashioned favourite among young kids, and that is a great thing.
I’m talking about Lego. Those little blocks that keep kids occupied for hours on end as they work on getting their creations just right.
There are so many educational benefits of Lego, it’s no wonder many consider it the best toy ever. It’s a wonderful tool for brain development in the early years.
Let’s take a look at some of the skills children learn from Legos.
The real learning power of Lego lies in its open-ended nature. Lego is not a toy that comes with a single function.
There are few things that can spark creative energy quite as much as a box of mixed Lego.
Children have to think about what to build, how to build it and then go on to find a way to make what’s in their imagination come to life.
While the provided ideas to model can be fun to introduce your kids to the possibilities, true learning happens when children build freely.
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Fine Motor Skills
It takes a lot of skill and finger control to manipulate the small blocks.
This makes Lego an excellent fine motor activity that will build your child’s fine motor coordination and strengthen the small muscles of the hand.
As they develop greater control, they will be able to move onto smaller-sized pieces.
Playing with Lego and other construction toys actually builds multiple physical skills.
Manipulating the pieces helps to develop hand-eye coordination, training the eyes and hands to work together, as well as bilateral integration – where the two sides of the body (or two hands) learn to work together.
Problem solving – a skill which is often stated as being one of the most important to stand out in the workplace – is built early on in life, through play.
While you can do exercises as an adult to try to improve this ability, the best way to encourage this skill in your kids is to immerse them in play that involves regularly solving problems for themselves.
What does Lego have to do with problem solving?
As children build, they are basically solving one problem after the next as they figure out how to make the pieces fit together, make the structure look like it did in their mind, and structure the parts for different functions.
They are basically learning early technology and engineering skills.
One of the reasons why Lego is so good for the brain is that it builds concentration span.
The more a child is immersed and “lost” in an activity, the more a child’s ability to focus develops.
My toddler may only play for 5 minutes but as she matures and gets involved in her play activities, the time she spends on an activity will grow.
Unlike screen time which is a passive activity, any playtime where a child is actively involved in thinking will have a positive impact on their developing attention span.
Learning to plan is a skill that needs to be practised like any other.
You will notice poor planning skills in how a child at school lays out their work. For example, they run out of space on the page, begin without a clear direction and change course later, or ask to start again.
Ever seen a child’s drawing of their family, where the last person is squashed into the corner? This shows a child’s developing ability to plan before beginning a task, as well as their spatial skills when planning out their page or their task.
Lego is a great tool for practising having a plan in your mind and then carrying out the plan.
A toddler may start by experimenting with Lego, discovering that they connect and can be stacked into a tower.
Later, as their brain develops, they start to build structures with an intention.
Colour and Shape Knowledge
Learning about colours and shapes in early childhood does not necessarily need to be taught with colour and shapes activities.
Simply by exposing your child to activities, games and educational toys, they will learn these concepts incidentally.
Getting lots of hands-on experiences, such as feeling the shapes of blocks and Lego as they are played with, has a lot of value.
When children build something together they learn to share, consider others’ opinions, take turns, be patient, and give constructive feedback and criticism (“it might fall down if we do that; why don’t we try it this way”).
They also experience the joy of working collaboratively with someone as well as the simple pleasure of spending time with friends.
Not only is playing with construction toys quite a therapeutic, stress-relieving activity, but it also encourages symbolic play (or pretend play).
When children engage in pretend play with others, they get to ‘act out life’, so to say, in a safe and healthy manner.
They role-play, converse, pretend to be grown-ups and attempt to understand all the aspects of life through play.
Early Maths Skills
One of the reasons why Lego is good for development is that it helps build an early foundation for mathematical concepts such as shape, number concept, measurement, etc.
While handling the little blocks, children learn concepts and mathematical terms such as:
- One more, one less
- Taller, higher, longer, shorter
- Not enough, too many, how many
- Straight, zig-zag, round, edges
- The same as, more than, enough, etc.
Feeling determined to complete something builds a child’s perseverance, a great value to teach your child.
An activity like building a structure has a start point and a desired goal. Few children would be satisfied to leave their construction halfway, which gives them the motivation to persevere.
Ready to boost your child’s intelligence with Lego? With all the choices of Lego sets, where do you start?
Unless you plan on buying multiple sets of the more specialized bricks (such as this wildlife safari set), it is easier and more beneficial to have a regular set with some standard extra fittings, that you can build anything with.
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