Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Learning with Lego

Today is the anniversary of Lego being patented in 1958, consequently today has been declared Lego Day in our house ;)

I have noticed recently on Facebook that there have been a lot of posts about how to use Lego educationally. In part, this has led to me writing this post so that I have all the links in one place for when we need them. This got me on to thinking about how we have always used Lego for learning :)

Lego and Duplo bricks have come in very handy over the years. Sometimes we have used them to build objects that are related to our topics - like the dinosaur above; other times they have been a great stand in - most recently for harbour walls in a home made ripple tank when learning about waves. In the past, we've been to a local Home Ed group based around Lego building and my children have recently been enjoying using the Lego robotics kit to learn some programming using Classroom Activities for the Busy Teacher: EV3 . They're not quite ready for the Lego League yet, but I was very interested to hear of a team of Home Educators who have made it through to the First Lego League nationals :)

At one time, I had a really useful book about mapping where all the activities were designed to use a Duplo train set. Unfortunately, I've passed the book and train set onwards and can not for the life in me remember what it was called :( It was a very effective way to teach about parallel lines though  and I remember that they built a great track with houses, trees and a farm and had to draw a map of their layout. Very good, challenging fun :)

I got a lot of good ideas on how to use Lego bricks from this Lego Unit. The Girl did it a few years ago, and now I'm hoping that Boykin will enjoy the updated version just as much as she did :) There's even a Kindergarten Kit for younger children, but we've never tried it out. If you have got little ones, this site has printable activities for Duplo bricks to go with a reading list.

We've used Lego for maths lots and lots of times, even if it was only to use the bricks as counters for the activities in their maths curriculum. The different colours, shapes and sizes are great to use for  sorting activities for younger ones, moving on to multiplication and fraction help for older ones. In between, we have used them to help explain area, perimeter, graphing, measuring, weighing on balance scales, pattern, symmetry and tessellation. You can get ideas and printables for some maths activities here.

There are lots of Lego resources to encourage creative writing too. Like these activities that show the building blocks of story writing to accompany the new Lego Movie which comes out in February. i have to confess that I'm intrigued by Lego Grammar: Making Grammar Fun to help build our English skills.

Lego for science. Look at this skull and a complete skeleton with organs and veins. Now there's a building challenge! Here's one on photosynthesis which I will do with The Girl some time soon.

My eldest son introduced them to Cuusoo, a site where you can offer your own suggestions for new Lego kits that the Cuusooo community then vote on. This is how Minecraft Lego kits came about :)

There are lots of videos on youtube that use Lego for stopmotion animation. There's even a free app to help you make your own. Of course there are many other youtube videos showing how Lego can be used fir making mechanical objects and also a video telling the story of Lego.

Both my children have enjoyed receiving their free Lego club magazines - it's always nice to get post, isn't it? The magazines have encouraged reading, entering competitions and have included some building instructions too :)

They can take part in a monthly Lego build challenge at this blog.
And here is Boykin's answer to a challenge to build on a 6x6 plate.

For artistic inspiration, Nathan Sawaya has made some interesting Lego sculptures. 
Or play LEGO Games 3844: Creationary .

Your child can participate in the free Lego Club at Currclick. You can sign up for these every few weeks, the club meets once a month and each session has a theme. Again, this is something that we have to try out yet as they are currently enrolling for a night session. I'll have a look again in a few weeks when they next enrol for a session at a more convenient time to us :)

Your child can even earn a Lego Master badge, if they fancy it. DIY.org is a great way for children who don't want to join a uniform organisation, such as Scouts, to earn badges to mark their achievements. of course, even if they are in Scouts or Cubs or Guides or Brownies they can still participate in the activities on offer :) I think if we take this up, they'll have more patches for me to sew on their camp blankets. I've not shown this site to them just yet, I have enough cub and scout badges to sew on as it is ;)

Learning with Lego on Pinterest is a mine of ideas and activities in different subject areas but mainly numeracy. I'd get yourself a brew before you start going through them all, you could be there sometime :) Pinterest is not something I've really gotten into as yet, but seeing this collection has definitely roused my interest :)

You can get building instructions online at  Lego Customer Services, Worldbricks and cubiculus.

If you want to replace those missing bricks, or if you want specific bricks to complete that model you're working on, or you prefer  original paper instructions to a download, make sure you visit Mr. Bungles Brick Bazaar. You'll get excellent customer service along with very reasonable prices.

I would love to hear how Lego is used in your home as an educational aid. 
Please add your favourite links in the comments to help make this an even more comprehensive resource. Thank you :)

Chemical Reactions explained with lego
Accompanying Teachers notes to above 
Lego balloon car instructions


  1. we have lego lovers too :-) can i ask where you purchased the lego organiser/ sorter from?

    1. I got it from Home Bargains. They have lots of different sizes. You can move the dividers to make the compartments to the size you want. They're only a few quid. sorry, I can't remember exactly, but they can't have been much because I buy them two at a time :) There's a similar product on Amazon, http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B002TGCZ4C/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B002TGCZ4C&linkCode=as2&tag=neverthesame2-21 for £7.99, but I know i didn't pay that much for them. HTH xx

  2. Thank you :) I need to buy these...I have been looking at 'lego' organisers but they are quite pricey!

  3. Lego themed phonics worksheets http://www.pearse.co.uk/lego/worksheets/

    Lego themed maths worksheets