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LEGO and Creative Kids

I am writing this post with much excitement. I have recently been discovering the joy of LEGO. It wasn't something I grew up playing with, being in a house of girls. It's a shame, because LEGO isn't just for boys or even kids for that matter. It is a fantastic way of being creative, stretching your imagination and building some super cool things.
LEGO can be a family activity, a social activity, or a solo activity. I'm a convert. Here are a few of my observations about this classic play toy.
LEGO is engaging
LEGO is a great toy investment because it's reusable, unlike many things that are built or used once and then abandoned on a shelf, never played with again. Once you build what you are suppose to with the kit, the real fun begins. What you build is only limited by your imagination. LEGO is an activity everyone in the family can participate in. Older children and younger children can experiment and build to their skill level. LEGO is very co-operative, it is always more fun to play together and build bigger things together.
Adults can engage young builders by asking them leading questions such as: "What kind of tool or machines would we need in space/under the sea/on a desert island/in a futuristic city/etc" and see what your kids come up with, you will probably be very surprised at their imaginations and creativity. You can ask your children to come up with an invention that would solve a problem and build it in LEGO. Encouragement is key, praise your child's creative efforts as they create "LEGO Masterpieces" Not only do you get to build new toys, you can play with them too!
Getting onto the floor and playing LEGO with your kids is a great way to expand your own creativity too. What you can create with LEGO is only limited by your imagination.
You can also practice simple math concepts such as addition subtraction, multiplication, and division, using LEGO blocks as a visual/tactile learning tool.
LEGO can be messy
Many parents steer clear of LEGO because of the potential for mess. The thing that make LEGO fun and interactive, those tiny pieces, can also lead to a lot of clutter. There are a couple of things you can do to contain the LEGO.
If you have the space, section off an area of your kid's floor or rec room and allow the LEGO to just be. An easy way to do this is to use an old play pen (the kind that you set on the floor). This contains the LEGO while keeping it out, encouraging use and self-directed play.
Otherwise, clean up the LEGO after each use. An easy way to do this is to play the Tidy Up Treasure Hunt:
Have a timer which you can set. Set the timer for 1-5 minutes depending on the size of the mess that must be cleaned up. You want children to have enough time to finish cleaning but short enough that they feel the excitement of a race.
Select one piece of LEGO to be put away. Tell the children that they are on a "Tidy Up Treasure Hunt" and they have x number of minutes to clean up. One of the items is a disguised treasure and whoever cleans up that particular piece is the winner. Announce the piece and the winner at the end of the time. You can offer a small prize if you wish, but excitement and recognition for the winner and praise for everyone who played and tidied up is usually sufficient.
LEGO can be expensive
New LEGO can be very expensive, although as far as toys go I think it is a good investment. One of the great things about LEGO is it never goes out of style, there are no parts to break (LEGO may break, but pieces are almost always replaceable), no batteries to buy. You can slowly add to your collection and still have fun.
If you can't afford new LEGO here are still a few creative ways you can get some for your family. Posting a wanted ad in your local newspaper, penny saver, or group. You can also put the word out among other parents in your circle or school that you are looking to purchase some old LEGO. If you are not looking for complete sets, you can often find LEGO fairly cheap second hand. Thrift stores and garage sales are also good places to search for used LEGO.
Finally, don't feel like you need to buy their LEGO. LEGO is an excellent product for your kids to save up their own money to buy; help them pick out a set to save for and set up a way to track their progress. I'm sure you could come up with any number of interesting progress indicators using LEGO they already have! And if they like LEGO enough to buy a lot of it, you will have plenty of opportunities to introduce them to the finer details of budgeting and purchasing such as accounting for taxes, how much you can buy with what you have, potentially pooling resources with a sibling (sharing!), waiting for sales, and price comparisons.
I hope this post has given you some ideas as to how to use LEGO in your creative family. How does your family use LEGO? Please post below, it's new to me and I would love the ideas! In the meantime, I'm going to go build something.
Have a creative day
Sheena is an educator and author who is passionate about creativity. Her website "Growing Creative Kids" is full of ideas, resources and creative inspiration for parents, educators and care givers.
Sheena has two e-books available on her website at:
"Growing Creative Kids" a great resource providing you with the ideas, inspiration and and tools to cultivate a creative mind within your family.
"The Art of Money Getting - Adapted for the Modern Teen Money Getter" takes P.T Barnum's classic lessons and makes it relevant to today's teens.

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