It’s the summer holidays. While the kids might be jumping for joy, parents can’t be blamed for feeling just a little overwhelmed at the idea of keeping the kids entertained and out of trouble for 7 long weeks. We have you covered, with a few fun LEGO® and LEGO DUPLO® projects that offer up plenty to keep the kids occupied for at least some of the time.
These smart ideas are all simple tasks that invoke the Christmas spirit in us all. Get the kids making adorable Christmas cards and decorations and you’ll be ticking more than just “Keep the kids occupied” off your list.
Our fast-paced technological age means that kids are spending more time in front of a screen and less time learning to solve problems with their own hands and ingenuity.
Technology certainly has its place and knowing how to use it is an essential skill for kids these days. But so too, is the ability to create, discover and learn spatially.
We’ve all heard the long list of benefits of LEGO® play. Not only does it improve fine motor skill, (an essential and often under developed skill in young children), but it also helps kids to interact well with each other, forming relationships based on sharing and teamwork.
LEGO® play is versatile
It can be about teamwork or solo problem solving. It can be totally fantasy-driven, focused on free-building to create whatever you dream up, or it can be about following instructions.
It’s about being in the moment
Playing with LEGO® blocks and sets is always interactive and demands focus right then and there. Watch any young child absorbed in their LEGO® building task and you will understand the importance of losing yourself in the creation so completely, discovering the laws of physics and geometry and the wonders of creativity along the way.
Visit our stores to discover, play and learn
That’s why we’ve taken care to set aside interactive play areas in three of our four stores. We also hold regular LEGO® builds, as all of this encourages kids (and adults!) to immerse themselves in the wonders of LEGO® play.
What you’ll find:
Interactive LEGO® wall with troughs of bricks for free build activity that includes mosaic building
LEGO® Play tables
LEGO® DUPLO pit
LEGO® Club availability to sit and build one of a selection of complete sets provided for building on-site at tables
These school holidays, stop by our stores in Habitat Centre, Somerset West, Blue Route Mall and Willowbridge Shopping Centre where you’ll find piles of LEGO® blocks to build from. It’s a good diversion for the kids, and by good, we mean genuinely constructive learning through play!
Our interactive areas are always overseen by a designated Kiddiwinks staff member, and we encourage parents to stay and even join in.
It’s a common question many parents have when it comes to introducing their toddler to LEGO® bricks:
Should we start with LEGO® DUPLO® sets or skip straight to LEGO® sets?
The general assumption is that kids are likely to play with LEGO® bricks from toddler to teenage-hood. We often don’t even consider that LEGO® DUPLO® bricks offer the same longevity. After all, their design is compatible with LEGO® bricks and therefore a valuable element in the building process. There are even convertors which allow for LEGO® DUPLO® bricks to be used with other older LEGO® sets.
Adults love LEGO® DUPLO® pieces too
Many adult fans of LEGO® (AFOLs) make use of LEGO® DUPLO® pieces in their MOCs usually to fill out a large structure, since LEGO® DUPLO® bricks interlock with LEGO® bricks and are also the same colours. Brick Blogger expands on how LEGO® DUPLO® sets will grow with you.
Kids need to play safely
While we all love LEGO® play, introducing LEGO® sets too young not only poses something of a safety risk for children under three years of age, it also hinders their ability to make developmental progress on their own.
It can be a frustrating process for parents too as the smaller, more intricate LEGO® bricks will require that parents facilitate play, which can interrupt precious moments of discovery for your child.
LEGO® DUPLO® bricks are something of a developmental bridge for your child. Here are four broad ways that LEGO® DUPLO® play is beneficial for young children:
Fine motor skills
They offer the opportunity for kids to improve their fine motor skills through repetitive motions using blocks that are designed to aid and encourage play for this very reason.
Playing with LEGO® DUPLO® bricks helps kids to build on their social skills through role play, sharing and teamwork.
Figure out the world
Kids spend a lot of time trying to figure out the world through experiments and deductions. LEGO® DUPLO® play encourages these thought processes and gets them to match up things like shapes and colours too.
Creativity and problem-solving
Two absolutely essential aspect of human thought are developed from a young age. LEGO ®DUPLO® bricks offer endless possibilities for experimenting and creating, offering kids the means by which they might follow one train of thought to resolve a burning question about the world, only to pursue yet another thought, seamlessly.
Consider including some LEGO® DUPLO® sets in your collection for a versatile, fun way to bridge the gap for young kids to learn through play and adults looking for great LEGO® building options.
The study of robotics is making inroads at schools – particularly through LEGO® play. One such school seeing growth in its LEGO® Robotics programme is Forres Preparatory School. So popular is it that the calss has been split into two groups, training on separate days.
One group has been aimed at teaching the ins and outs of programming and building a robot, from the very basic first steps, to more advanced situations like following a line. Excitingly, the other group is now the team that will represent Forres at the FIRST LEGO® League competition in early November.
In the 2016 FIRST LEGO® League Challenge, more than 28 000 teams from over 80 countries will look into the eyes of our Animal Allies, the theme of this year’s competition. The competition is made up of three parts: the Robot Game, the Project, and the Core Values. The teams participate in the Challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game), developing a solution to a problem they have identified (Project), all guided by the FIRST LEGO® League Core Values. Among other things, the Forres team has:
researched challenges facing today’s scientists,
designed, built, tested and programmed robots using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technology,
learned to apply real-world math and science concepts,
learned critical thinking, team-building, and presentation skills, and
learned and practiced gracious professionalism.
In November the team will compete at the regional competition at the Cape Town Science Centre. From there, 25 teams from around South Africa qualify for the National Competition in Gauteng. The top 2 teams at the national competition then get the opportunity to perform on the international stage.
The competition details are only announced 10 weeks before the competition to ensure that all teams are given equal time to plan. With only an hour-and-a-half training time each week, the kids are putting their all into it. Completing the work needed to compete at the regional level is an achievement in itself.
It turns out that LEGO® play has far-reaching developmental benefits for kids, way more impactful than just fine motor coordination. Even better: we go on benefitting from LEGO® play as adults. Here are just a few of the reasons you need to join your kids the next time they get out the LEGO® bricks:
#1 Teamwork and communication
Sharing, discussing your building strategy and assigning roles is an important part of the process of a LEGO® build. It can even help to increase language development. According to a 2007 study of children from lower and middle income families in the USA, the parents of kids who played with building blocks generally reported better verbal skills in their children.
#2 Patience and organisational skills
The ability to plan, organise and then execute are all critical skills that can be applied to any goal orientated actions in life. With LEGO® bricks and models, these skills can be tested and exercised using the construction process as a tool. Moreover, when things aren’t going as planned, it’s the positive action of going back to the drawing board and re-thinking the original plan that helps to teach kids perseverance and resilience.
#3 Constructive problem solving and lateral thinking
Which brings us to thinking creatively in order to solve a problem – such as a teetering LEGO® tower that is going to topple over at any moment. Thinking laterally to save the design is just part of the creative process of playing with LEGO® bricks and yet another essential life skill we could all do with.
#4 Adventure and experimentation
Playing with LEGO® bricks offers a secure space in which to experiment, try things you’ve never tried – and sometimes fail. From the excitement of the initial idea to the disappointment when it doesn’t work out, creating the space to play around with ideas is exactly the sort of space needed for creative thinking and problem solving.
#5 Fine motor skills development
Perhaps it goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: the small, precise movements that need to be coordinated together when building with LEGO® bricks is what will help strengthen a child’s fine motor skills.
#6 Increases spatial awareness
When you’re given a blueprint of a construction you have to build, it’s your ability to think in 3D that is most tested. Why is this so important? Well, it is believed that spatial intelligence is a critical factor in your ability to think as an engineer, artist or architect. It’s the essential skill required to think in physical shapes.
#7 Better focus and concentration
It takes time to learn to settle and concentrate – for kids, learning to do this without feeling frustrated or pressured helps to create good associations with focus time. For adults, playing with LEGO® bricks can help you to put all the other life worries out of your mind in almost meditative fashion. In fact, immersion in LEGO® play helps with relaxation, and stress management, so make sure you get a regular fix!