Introducing LEGO-Based Learning in your School

January 10, 2018by Yuti Jhaveri0

LEGO has been widely adopted in households with children for decades now, primarily acting as a creative outlet for children during their hours spent at home. From an academic context, parents are most familiar with LEGO only because of the largescale competitions that take place at a high school level or in an engineering program at college levels. Few people know that these building blocks can even play a significant role in early learning and elementary schools.

How Can Schools Incorporate LEGO-based Learning into Teaching Approaches?

In addition to offering a chance to manipulate the colours, structures and sizes of these blocks, LEGO comes with the ability to engage the creative brain. From a teaching perspective, it opens doors to exceptional instructional capabilities that facilitate effective teaching of concepts for children under 12. Consider some of the common learning objectives educators need to achieve for this age group –

  • Spatial Reasoning and Building

From the ages 3 and up, one of the most critical skills that children are expected to master is spatial reasoning. This skill helps students familiarize themselves with context, height, width and eventually learn how to recreate relatively complex models. LEGO allows for creative reinforcement of these skills that eventually form a foundation for their STEM skills.

  • Building Blocks for STEM Skills

From the basic DUPLO blocks to the more complex robotic sets for older students, LEGO helps create a foundation for enhanced understanding of concepts in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). By advancing a student’s spatial and motor skills, construction toys help in creating a strong foundation for advanced concepts in engineering and architecture.

Beyond elementary level education, LEGO robotics sets act as a great tool to introduce the basics in coding and programming to middle school students. These skills are increasingly critical in today’s digital world. Furthermore, LEGO based learning facilitates three-dimensional thinking, that is critical to understand a variety of concepts in science.

  • Introducing Concepts in Math in the Classroom
  • Mathematics is often perceived as dreary by students right from an elementary level. LEGO is an excellent tool for educators who are combating this problem. While studies have shown that earlier introduction to concepts in math may not necessarily make them easier to grasp as a child grows, LEGO bricks on the other hand provide students with some context and subsequently a chance to manipulate and truly understand the nature of addition, subtraction, geometry and other math skills that are otherwise difficult to grasp using solely a blackboard.Educators can rely on structured building with LEGO sets that allows students to learn sorting skills – a rather simple but extremely valuable skill in math. Educators often find that students tend to perform far better when they have something to manipulate when a specific concept is being introduced. LEGO offers a chance to work hands-on with material. For instance, creating pattern games with two colour blocks, then three and then four. The complexity of the pattern goes up with the child’s age. By performing simple tasks such as addition and subtraction of blocks from a structure, students can experience first-hand, the real-world applications of various math skills while also providing for them a point of reference when they are expected to solve these math problems in writing.

  • Language Development
  • Studies show that speech and language skills are best developed in a learning environment that is rich with sights, sounds and consistent exposure to verbal inputs. Imagine a classroom where a child is given tools to create a perfect situation that not only fires up his or her imagination, but also encourages them to tell stories.  With LEGO bricks, a child is able to plan anything from an intergalactic battle to trip to a shopping mall with the LEGO Friends sets. The LEGO Education Story Starter and Story Tales set are designed to help children understand how to create and structure stories with a beginning, a body and the end, while having fun with bricks.Educators today are relying on LEGO blocks to introduce a world of concepts such as alphabets, transportation, habitats, animals, lifecycles, etc. By allowing kids to build their own alphabets with LEGO, create animals such as giraffes or even frogs, they can translate learning into models, eventually building their vocabulary and memorizing concepts better. Along the way, they pick up on interesting facts, for instance, that a giraffe has a blue tongue, while having simultaneous visual stimulus to support these learnings.

  • Making your Students Successful Problem Solvers While one may argue that the structured play attached to following the directions of a LEGO set doesn’t truly encourage creativity, what it truly does is help develop impeccable problem-solving skills. There is sufficient scope for teachers and students to manipulate the ready sets and model instructions to add newer layers of innovation in their creations.Teachers find it valuable to coach students to find ways through trial and error in finding the right blocks to construct a specific object or shape. These activities in school environments can help students learn how to work through problems and arrive at a solution, or sometimes even alternative solutions.Encouraging the building of creations to specific instructions helps create a collaborative approach to problem solving, which is without doubt a critical skill to inculcate for academic as well as professional success in the future.Finally, the universal popularity of LEGO among boys and girls makes it a central gathering point in any class room, contributing to the enhancement of various social skills such as language and collaborative play. The social skills that LEGO help develop are critical to the future educational success of a child right from kindergarten and through life.

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