Learning by Building
Lego construction toys are fun and educational play sets that inspire children's imaginations and are popular with kids of all ages. (Lego is a registered trademark of The Lego Group.) The Lego company has always focused on learning through play. A staff of child development experts guides the company's product development and ensures that their toys are appropriately challenging. Two key aspects that the company tries to incorporate into all of its products are "hands-on, minds-on."
The Lego company manufactures elaborate sets based on exciting themes, and bulk collections of bricks that can be used to create anything one can imagine. In addition, a wide variety of accessory pieces such as community workers, traffic signs, road plates, wheels and vehicles are available. Different varieties of Legos include Duplos, Technics, Robotics, and Bionicles.
The high quality Lego bricks are virtually indestructible, as any parent who's ever had the misfortune of stepping on one in bare feet can tell you! With three boys who are Lego enthusiasts in our house, we could use a Lego bulldozer to scoop up the assorted pieces that are often scattered all over the floor.
In 1985, a Canadian company called Mega Bloks introduced its own brand of construction toys which are based on an interlocking system very similar to Legos. The Mega Bloks company fills a niche in the market by producing military-themed products (which is against Lego's philosophy).
Fun Facts for Lego Maniacs
Our family has been going to Legoland every year since they first opened. My three boys (ages 4, 9, and 14) are Legomaniacs so they love it. Legoland is unique in that they have a lot of interactive stuff that demands a refreshing level of actual participation from visitors. While the park is geared toward younger children, many rides do have a height requirement. Thrill-seeking teenagers will find most of the rides a little ho-hum, but a few rides have been added for them, too, like the Technicoaster. The intricate lifelike detail of the Lego models, especially in Miniland, is awesome, even though theyre starting to get a little weather-worn from sitting out in the Southern California sunshine. Legoland is not as large as other theme parks but its just right so that if youre at the door when they open you will have time to see everything and can make it around the whole park without getting too tired out. The little kids rides start on the left when you go in, and the more exciting rides for the older kids are on the right. Just beware of the Hideaway playground near the Knights Kingdom because once the kids get in there you wont be able to get them back out! And dont miss the Adventurer's Club which is hidden away in a corner of Fun Town. It's a really cool (and a little bit scary for little kids) walk through a rainforest (with authentic rainstorm sounds and lighting), ancient Egypt (with an earthquake) and the Arctic in search for some lost keys to a treasure. Go to http://www.Lego.com/Legoland/california for a map and additional details.
PCS Edventures Online (http://edventures.com) is an internet-based subscription service for individuals and families offering hundreds of courses which utilize Lego elements and other materials found readily in the home. Hands-on activities and projects focus on topics such as: Art/Creative Constructions, Physics/Mechanics, Electricity, Mechanical Engineering and Architecture. PCS Edventures also offers Lego-based science and engineering programs for in-school, after-school, and in-home environments.
The BrickLab (www.bricklab.com) is a big tub of plastic construction bricks combined with a unique standards-based comprehensive curriculum that enables students to explore math, science, communications, and technology through hands-on projects. The original BrickLab curriculum contains over 5,000 building elements, 52 lessons, and 208 activities in four main subjects: Construction Engineering, Mathematics, Physics and Communications. It offers a survey of activities for K-12 students in traditional classrooms or home schools. Free sample lesson plans, projects and activities for art, architecture, construction, engineering, math, physics, and science are available on their website for you to download and try.
www.geocities.com/Athens/8259/Lego.html (Lessons and ideas on how to how to integrate Legos & K'nex into your curriculum!)
www.weirdrichard.com (Richard Wright has written hundreds of lesson plans using Legos. He challenges you to email him with a subject that you think cannot be taught using Legos.)
www.Lego.com/eng/siteindex (Information about Lego products, buy bricks in bulk, join the Lego Club, plus educational information about machines and mechanisms, including a Constructopedia reference work containing articles and animated diagrams on different aspects of construction.)
http://hari.mindvision.com/lego/Magic/magic.html (Lego Magic Trick.)
These next two, you must see to believe! You will be amazed at what can be accomplished with Lego bricks and a lot of patience!
www.amyhughes.org/Lego/church (A church built from Legos!)
The Ultimate Lego Book, by Dorling Kindersley.
Lego Crazy Action Contraptions, by Dan Rathjen and the Editors of Klutz.
Rose and Twinkleberry's Guide to Building Your Own Puzzles Using LEGO Building Blocks, by Doug Walker.
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These pages are a continuous work in progress.
These pages are a continuous work in progress.