5 fun learning experiences with Legos

Lego racing

Last Saturday, my four year old son Peter and I got lost in Lego Land for three hours. What were we doing? While the Lego Land experience has tons of activities for parents and their kids, my Peter and I were literally glued to the experience of building Lego race cars together. The experience is kind of like mashing up a “pine wood derby” contest with all you can eat Lego parts and wheels.

This experience was very social. It attracted boys, girls, dads, moms, and young adults. I was proud that Peter and I held our own against the Georga tech college students.

Why do I believe that Lego learning is cool?

Peter and his car

Peter and his car

It sparks creativity: As a creative and a Dad, I love getting to build stuff with my son. I have no idea how Peter will use his creative skills in the future. No matter what he decides to do, I know that his creative thinking will serve him well. Without poking or prodding, Peter would iteratively add new stuff to his car. In his case, I believe that he just wanted to get the car to the finish line. It was a pleasure to see the engineering design of my four year old son.

Learning from trial and error: The process during the Lego racing game was very simple for Peter: add cool stuff to my car, race the car against other kids, cheer, clean up the pieces that fell off the car, and do the process over again while fixing stuff. With the environment and game elements of the Lego racing track, Peter was teaching himself iterative development.

Learning on accident: Peter and I really enjoyed our afternoon of racing. The whole experience appealed to my adult desire to build cool stuff. At the same time, Peter totally enjoyed the experience. Whether his car fell apart or crossed the finish line, he was having a blast with his Dad. (epic win for me!)

4 Lego Learning Experiences:
After sharing this story with friends at work, I got inspired to look around for other ways Lego can be used to teach and learn. What else can we learn through Lego?

Lego FIRST: Through my Twitter community, I met James Chalmers, a 5th grade science and robotics teacher. You should follow him on Twitter @InquiryLearner. He introduced me to a movement of teachers and technology professionals who are promoting science, technology, engineering, and math through Lego FIRST, Lego’s mashed up with robotics.  To learn more, visit http://www.firstlegoleague.org/ .

Lego story: Can you imagine growing up without Lego’s? The story of Lego getting started is pretty moving. It’s a story of a humble carpenter doing what he can to support his family. He had lots of bumps on the road. It’s a story we can all relate to. We, however, currently enjoy the fruits of of Ole Kirk Christiansen’s life story.

Lego games: As I was researching this blog post, I discovered web games on the main Lego site. If you’re looking for ways to play with your kids, these games might be cool. They have sections that focus on strategy, creativity, and preschool:  http://www.lego.com/en-us/games/default.aspx

Lego digital designer: What if you had an infinite number of Lego’s to work with? What would you build with your son or daughter? Check out Lego digital designer at http://ldd.lego.com/ . Peter loves to blow stuff up in this tool. 🙂

Learning experiences can show up in pretty crazy places. I believe my Lego racing experience was an example of effective game based learning. What other games and toys can create accidental teachable moments?