My oldest son Benjamin just turned 5 at the end of July, and he started Kindergarten a couple of weeks ago. Especially since he's the youngest kid in his class, we've always wanted to be doing things at home with him to help prepare him for Kindergarten, and help him succeed in school. Learning and education are also super important to me as a parent, but I think that some of the very best ways to learn and grow come from hands on activities, and things that encourage creativity and imagination. That's why I LOVE LEGOs so much, and why we encourage Benjamin to play with LEGOs ALL THE TIME to help him prepare for Kindergarten and then to continue to succeed in school.
Last week, we got the chance to build this fun LEGO Juniors set - a castle with a working catapult, some fun LEGO characters, and a white horse. (If you haven't heard of LEGO Juniors, they are designed to give children age 4-7 a great first experience with LEGO bricks through iconic, fun and easy to build models. LEGO JUNIORS sets contain quick start elements and numbered pre-packed bags that can be built without help from Mom or Dad – which makes any small builder extra proud.) Benjamin enjoyed playing with this set so much that he didn't stop for about 3 hours. He even took his white LEGO horse with him to school for his very first show and tell. He loved building the castle from start to finish almost completely by himself, and then loved playing with his 3 year old sister Lyla when it was complete.
1. Helps Build Confidence - The Lego Juniors construction sets are especially great for young builders. Some of the bigger more complicated pieces (like part of the castle wall) come as one big piece. Also, the bags are separated and numbered to make it easier to follow the directions. Benjamin was able to follow the directions page by page with almost no help from me or his dad. I could definitely see how proud and confident he felt as he built.
3. Dexterity - Playing with LEGOs helps with fine motor skills and coordination, and helps little fingers learn to do little tasks. This dexterity will help kids a lot when they are learning to write.
4. Understanding of Simple Mechanics - Some of my favorite LEGO pieces and sets are the ones that have simple machines. This is a great early window into the world of physics. This little catapult is really just a working lever. When you press down on one side, you can send things flying into the air from the other side.
5. Working Independently - LEGOs are a great toy for kids to play with by themselves. They are able to work and build independently from other kids and parents, and the LEGO Juniors sets especially can make that possible.
6. Working Together - LEGOs are also a great project for teamwork. When Benjamin was having a little bit of trouble putting a piece in the right spot, he asked his dad for help (and what dad isn't happy to help play with LEGOs?!). Building with LEGOS is a great opportunity to work with a friend, whether you are taking turns following directions, or combining two completely different ideas into one unique creation.
8. Encourages them to Think Outside the Box - Following the instructions is great. However, there is so much to be learned from completely ignoring the instructions and the "supposed tos" and thinking completely outside the box. You want to put a LEGO head on top of a window on top of a horse? YES! You want to make letters out of LEGOs? YES! You want to see what happens when you stamp play-doh with LEGOs? YES!
9. Finger Strength - This is another important Kindergarten skill. Playing with LEGOs helps kids build more muscles in their fingers which helps them have a stronger grip and more control when they are coloring, cutting with scissors, and learning to write.
10. Fosters Creativity - As a lover of all things creative, I love seeing how LEGOs bring out unique creativity in kids. I love how you can see a child's personality shine through in the things he or she creates, like a little window into his or her head. Sometimes it's too easy to get caught up in worksheets and checklists, and to easy to loose track of how important CREATIVITY and IMAGINATION are for kids (and for grown-ups too!).
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.