The children are big fans of Legos, so much so that they could easily spend the entire day playing with the small parts and never run out of ideas and opportunities to create!
We have a mosaic area with tiles in a special section at Little Wonders that the children are encouraged to explore with. One day we brought the children and the Legos to this inspiring are to spur creativity. Our goal was to provide them with a different material to use with the Legos. The tiles in the mosaic area vary in shape, size, color, and are much more sleek than Legos because they don’t stack exceptionally well (when compared to Legos).
It was a wonderful challenge for the students. The children built and worked on many different designs, including cars, cities, and dragons! Together, we took photos of their creations and projects wince we couldn’t keep them intact forever. After taking the photos, we asked the children to draw characters of the “story” they told with the mosaic tiles. After they drew and colored in their characters, we laminated the pieces of art and put each one in a cardboard stand to help it stand up alone. These characters were placed in the block area the next morning as a provocation to continue the work they began the previous day.
It has been four days and the children are still using their drawings as they play! These handmade characters provide such a rich play environment because the children made these themselves according to stories they created (as opposed to store-bought pieces).
Below are two short videos made by the children of how the characters “move” in the car and the city!
Playing with blocks, tiles, and Legos allows the children to focus on strategically placing one piece in a certain way so the entire creation has meaning (and is stable). The children often choose which piece to use next based on the shape, color, texture, and weight of the piece… leading to intensive problem solving skills. The children are able to learn concepts like balance, stability, and symmetry through trial and error as they construct objects. There are thousands of possibilities for counting and sorting tiles and Legos, in addition to creating patterns and sequences. Encouraging the children to play with tiles and Legos allow children to practice mathematic concepts like counting and sorting and gain hands-on experience with scientific concepts, like gravity and density. The beautiful part about playing with tiles and Legos is that it may be the same material, but children use these objects in their own individual way. Using the same parts, one child can build a car, house, or dragon. The opportunities for creativity and critical thinking are endless! Moreover, we took this project a step further by encouraging the children to feel a sense of ownership, accomplishment, and pride by extending the period of play with their creations. Instead of just toppling the tiles over and starting a new project, we documented the process by taking photos and continuing the story-telling process from those original constructions.
Moreover, instead of the children simply drawing characters and filing them in a folder forever, we laminated the drawings and encouraged the children to continue playing with their original ideas and concepts the next day. This is at the heart of the Reggio Emilia approach: continued play, allowing children enough time to fully develop a concept or story at their own pace, and encouraging the children to develop relationships with material items in the world. When we say “building a relationship with material items,” we aren’t referring to a stuffed animal or blanket that the child particularly enjoys. We are referring to the children having enough time to develop a sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment, understanding, knowledge, and allowing them to interpret their comprehension in several ways. That means we don’t cut projects short or limit the amount of time one child spends on an activity… we allow them to flourish!