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Is Your Kid Lego Obsessed? No Worries!

Is Your Kid Lego Obsessed? No Worries!

While the little bricks hurt when you step on them barefoot, the are a beneficial toy for your kids to build with, both for educational and entertainment purposes. Are your kids obsessed with this STEM activity? Immerse them in building at Legoland's new hotel in Florida.


My 5-year-old son has co-opted an entire room for his Legos, and I am okay with that. He played with his mega blocks and Duplo sets when he was younger, but the bricks often languished in the corner of his room in favor of trucks and puzzles and balls. Two sets that were given to him by friends at his last birthday party, though, sparked a renewed interest that has since become insatiable.

What I love about his approach to Lego play is that he consciously separates his bricks into “imaginary play Legos” and “sets,” which require focus and following instructions. Depending upon his mood, he tackles one or the other.

I am a big advocate of the value of play, and I don’t subscribe to the notion that every plaything must be educational. But it sure is fortuitous when one toy is both undeniably fun (to the point of being addictive) and proven to be educationally valuable across every age and developmental stage. As Bill Nye “The Science Guy” told NYMetroParents recently: “Who doesn’t love Lego? There are 62 Lego bricks for every man, woman, and child on Earth! That’s pretty cool. That’s a lot of Lego.”

Recent studies suggest that adolescents who still engage in construction play score higher on tests of spatial reasoning and math. Research also shows that children who begin playing with blocks early and continue through their young elementary years perform better on standardized tests even through middle school.

Oh, and for what it’s worth: All blocks and building toys get my (and most educators’) vote. From classic Tinker Toys to GoldieBlox (fabulous construction toys geared toward girls), from Magna Tiles to wooden block shapes, these toys are, in fact, building blocks of learning.

boy building with legos
©2015 Chip Litherland Photography Inc.
Building with Legos is not only fun, it increases hand-eye coordination, among other benefits.

 

Your Kid: Under Construction

Building with blocks such as Legos:

  • teaches kids to think in three dimensions, which helps build a foundation for physics in later school years
  • improves hand-eye coordination
  • boosts literacy as kids follow direction
  • promotes creativity
  • provides an engaging and concrete way to understand early math concepts such as addition and subtraction
  • strengthens sorting skills, a key to kindergarten learning

 

When kids play together with Legos—think play dates, sibling sharing, or Lego clubs—the benefits are even greater:

  • Kids learn to experiment and test cause and effect by constructing and deconstructing their different creations again and again.
  • They learn to adapt to change. “We need to provide students with the opportunity to create or resolve problems without the restriction of trying to find that one right answer,” says Denmark-based Søren Thomsen, head of educational content development for Lego Education.
  • They build socialization skills, something that has proven especially beneficial for children on the autism spectrum. One study found that kids who attended a group play session with Legos improved socially more than kids who were coached through traditional therapy.
  • Taking a break from homework for just 10 minutes to build a quick Lego creation helps reorganize a child’s brain and makes refocusing on the tasks at hand easier.

 

You can reap rewards, too:

  • As a society we tend to dismiss play for adults. But Ethel Baumberg, cofounder of Flyaroo Fitness, based in New York City and northern New Jersey, says imaginative play is critical for all age groups. “Studies have shown that a wandering mind can aid in the process of creativity and builds a stronger memory,” Baumberg says. Visualization also creates positive thinking that leads to satisfaction. “Most adults who actively daydream are typically more successful and take highly rewarding creative risks.” One of her recommendations for tapping into your playful side: Build a Lego town with your child and his cousins or friends.

 

legoland hotel in florida
©2015 Chip Litherland Photography Inc.
The Legoland Hotel, which celebrated its grand opening in May, is located in Winter Haven, FL, 45 minutes from the Orlando theme parks or downtown Tampa.

 

Lego Fun Facts

  • This summer, children in Milan, Italy built the world’s tallest structure with Lego bricks: An estimated 550,000 Legos were used to complete the tower, measuring 114 feet, 11 inches. On June 21 the final brick was secured—via a crane!
  • The name Lego is derived from the Danish phrase “leg got,” which means “play well.” It is also interpreted loosely in Latin as “I put together.”
  • Approximately seven Lego sets are sold each second.
  • Lego hopes to ditch plastic by the year 2030, investing $150 million to find a “new, sustainable, raw material” to use for the production of Legos and help reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

 

Beyond the Bricks

  • In the United States, fewer than than 15 percent of women enter college intending to major in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field. Roominate Toys are designed to get girls interested in all types of tech and design projects—and mothers and daughters alike love them. Check out the inspiration boards and videos uploaded by girls across the country.
  • Legoland Discovery Center in Yonkers hosts adult nights—one of our favorite past themes was Brick of Thrones—for $15 with online registration. So hire a babysitter, head out to play like the kids do, and get tips from master builders. Check the site for an upcoming schedule (not to mention the array of, um, kids’ programming).
  • The Lego Foundation and UNICEF recently launched a campaign to inspire children to build the most imaginative tower they can with Duplo bricks, upload a photo to the web, and know that their participation is for a good cause: The more people that participate in the initiative, the more Legos will be donated to children in South Africa, where up to 150 schools and day care centers are expected to benefit from this partnership.
  • More and more local play spaces and libraries are offering Lego activities for young kids. RoboFun on Manhattan’s Upper West Side is a popular option for drop-in classes especially for preschoolers and young elementary school-aged children, who are introduced to robotics by building and programming Lego projects using sensors, motors, and special software. 
  • The new Legoland Hotel at Legoland Florida Resort officially opened its colorful doors in May, and wow, was it built with kids in mind. From the pit of bricks in the hotel lobby (kids can jump right in while parents check in) to the Master Model Builders workshops, from rooms made to spark young imaginations to a swimming pool with soft floating bricks so kids can build while they cool down, the hotel is a Lego-lover’s dream.

 

legoland hotel kingdom room
©2015 Chip Litherland Photography Inc.
A “kingdom”-themed room at Florida’s new Legoland Hotel

 

That #Lego time…

…when you got up at 1am to go to the bathroom, stepped on the tiniest Lego ever, and screamed like you were bit by a lion. #$%^&*

…when you laughed uncontrollably when your 3-year-old stepped on two stray Legos #payback #shameface

…when you actually considered dropping $150+ for a Lego set with no birthday, holiday, or excuse-for-a-gift in sight, because you knew it would give you at least 1 hour of alone time

…when you built an entire brick city with your kids and forgot all about cooking dinner

…when you swelled with pride over your child’s robotic Lego vehicle she engineered for the science fair (even though you hadn’t the slightest idea how she made it!)

…when you realized your Pinterest board is dominated by your kids’ Lego creations instead of home-decorating pins—and weren’t at all embarrassed

 

Explore More Lego


Main photo by PhotoOp NYC; clothing courtesy Appaman