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LEGOs: Combining Play and Learning

LEGO sets may be a first introduction to design and architecture for many during their childhood years.

Planning, building, demolishing and rebuilding can be considered rites of passage in the world of imaginary play.

Toys like LEGOs can help build motor skills and develop strategy building abilities.

They are even on an upcoming agenda to be used in a school curriculum in Denmark for children ages 3 through 7, with plans for eventually providing instruction for those up to age 16.

The International School of Billund, located in Jutland near the LEGO birthplace, is working to become the first of its kind to use LEGOs as part of their learning system. The school intends to incorporate inquiry based learning into their lesson plans, which is used with the goal of allowing learners to formulate their own interests and examinations.

While not entirely tossing out classic educational models where they have been proven to be effective, the school also aims to carve out time for creative expression and engaging activities.

While LEGOs and playful learning seem to go hand in hand, some have scrutinized the company’s production practices, as the beloved toys are made from not so loved #7 plastics which are harder to recycle. However, the durable way that LEGOs are constructed make them an ideal keepsake for passing around to other children or donating. A company representative also stated that during the manufacturing process all remaining plastics are recycled, either by remolding for products or sold for reuse.

Have some LEGOs lying around?

A company called Rebrickable has invented a neat way to redo old sets to design new ones. Using pieces already in a collection, the site allows users to find instructions on how to repurpose them into new creations by entering the set’s serial numbers as well as particular preferences. Their database (yes – a LEGO database!) will search and locate other compatible pieces that will work with your existing ones to closely replicate other sets.

This is a fun way to re-spark an interest in LEGOs that may have been put up in the closet for a while, and also allows users to design objects without having to purchase an entirely new set, but only the needed pieces.

Alternatively, engineers who would rather not follow a LEGO blueprint can make and share their own designs with their custom MOC (My Own Creation) option. Also, check out their statistics section for all things pertinent to LEGO building.

LEGO is planning a new model to be released in June, keeping in tune with their project inspiring architectural series which has been around since the early 1960’s.

If you are a LEGO fan, or know one, break out this timeless medium for hours of playful design projects.

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