Let’s play...with LEGOs! This November (and for as long as interest lasts), we are inviting all children to share their unique LEGO creations with each other via our LEGO FlipGrid Invitation to Play.
Over the course of the month, I will also be writing about the process of play through use of LEGOs.
If LEGOs are new to your classroom, there are several things that you will need to consider before opening up this experience for your kids. I thought it might be helpful to offer some guidance and resources in this post so that you can make the experience as meaningful as possible for your learners.
Teacher Buy In
Before putting the idea of sharing LEGO creations out to kids, teachers need to evaluate their own philosophy and pedagogy when it comes to play. If you see this as an “extra” or “cute” activity, there is a good chance that the process and products your children create will reflect this type of understanding. If, however, you take time to consider how this experience fits within a meaningful context of learning, your students are likely to take on this mindset as well.
Teachers across the country (and across the world) are held accountable for covering different standards. Standards give us an idea of what to cover, but not necessarily how to cover them. This is where we can embrace the opportunity to integrate meaningful learning experiences. Here I share some of the standards that we cover in New Jersey that may be met through play with the LEGO FlipGrid Experience:
MA.K.K.G.A.1 - [Standard] - Describe objects in the environment using names of shapes, and describe the relative positions of these objects using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind, and next to.
MA.K.K.G.B.5 - [Standard] - Model shapes in the world by building shapes from components (e.g., sticks and clay balls) and drawing shapes.
MA.K.K.G.B.6 - [Standard] - Compose simple shapes to form larger shapes.
MA.K.K.G.A.3 - [Standard] - Identify shapes as two-dimensional (lying in a plane, “flat”) or three-dimensional (“solid”).
LA.K.SL.K.4 - [Progress Indicator] - Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.
LA.K.SL.K.5 - [Progress Indicator] - Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.
LA.K.SL.K.6 - [Progress Indicator] - Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.
TECH.8.1.2.C.1 - [Cumulative Progress Indicator] - Engage in a variety of developmentally appropriate learning activities with students in other classes, schools, or countries using various media formats such as online collaborative tools, and social media.
A joint position statement of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College
*Effective technology tools connect on-screen and off- screen activities with an emphasis on co-viewing and co- participation between adults and children and children and their peers (Takeuchi 2011). These tools have the potential to bring adults and children together for a shared experience, rather than keeping them apart.
*Children’s interactions with technology and media mirror their interactions with other play materials and include sensorimotor or practice play, make-believe play, and games with rules. Therefore, young children need opportunities to explore technology and interactive media in playful and creative ways.
Take a moment to evaluate your teaching standards and how the LEGO FlipGrid can support you in meeting them in hands-on, fun, and engaging ways. What specific lessons could you offer to pre-teach concepts for kids? In my next post, I will offer more specific ideas and possibilities for follow up lessons based on student understanding and interest through LEGOs.
LEGOs are an interesting learning tool and toy because they are open ended and timeless. However, because they are often sold in pre-made kits, children come with many pre-conceived notions about what LEGOs can and should represent. Although following the guided steps that come with a LEGO kit offers a very important skill, the objective of this activity is different. We are seeking to help children see their potential as creators and collaborators rather than limiting them to the role of consumer.
For the past couple of years I have had a LEGO center in our classroom. (It actually started with a free LEGO table I found on the side of the road that someone was giving away!) I have been fascinated by the process of play in this center. Just as in block building, children tend to move through stages of LEGO building. It takes time before they come to more advanced building and collaboration. If your students are new to open-ended LEGO building, here are some ideas to set them up for success:
Dreaming Up -
This amazing book introduces building with a variety of materials and relates them to the real life creations of architects around the world. Helping children to see their work with LEGOs (or any building material) as a meaningful way of expression and creation, guides them to see their work (play) as important within the context of the larger world.
Lego Artists and Engineers - Inspire children to see the possibilities in creation by “meeting” Lego artist Mike Basich. Take a deeper look at how engineers take on the challenge of building a real car out of Legos.
Lego Challenge Cards from the STEM laboratory - Before asking children to make their own unique creations, help them to see possibilities with these Lego challenge cards. I have used these many times throughout the year, especially as children need new inspiration for creating.
Make a Space to Save Creations - Just as we come back to edit stories we write, children need time and space to edit their play. They need to be able to walk away, re-evaluate, collaborate, and revise their work. We have the LEGO table which allows us a space to keep creations over time. However, saving creations may also mean having trays or shallow bins that can be put to the side until the next play session. “Under Construction” signs can be placed on these items so that children feel their work is valued and protected.
The Bigger Picture
The larger idea of the LEGO FlipGrid is to give children a space for global collaboration on their work. Having an audience of peers makes work meaningful and exciting! Beyond that, it is an opportunity to move through the cycle of play on a larger scale. When you view the creations of other children with your students consider pausing and asking questions to inspire development of play:
How was that creation similar or different from your idea?
Could you re-create and add to it?
Does it inspire you to create something else?
What compliment can share with that builder?
Do you have any questions that you would ask?
Ideally, children may come to the point in which their response to a peer on FlipGrid may be a new version or extension of something that the other child has created. In this way, children may play “together"on a global scale.
Integrating the process of play into learning in this way is very new experience. Use of technology in the classroom has opened up this window of possibility. As we embrace the opportunity together, be prepared to face challenges, problem-solve, re-evaluate, and be inspired. Together with our kids, we can share the role of learner and teacher on this journey through innovating play.
Heart & Soul,