Monday, August 31, 2015

[Infographic] 9 Tools to Simplify Homeschooling with LEGO

Did you know that LEGO Education offers curricula for teaching with LEGO, across numerous subjects and age groups? In this infographic, we explore tools to improve and simplify homeschooling with LEGO. These include LEGO Education curricula, community resources where other homeschoolers share techniques and lesson plans, and other online resources. We hope you find it helpful!


LEGO Education Curricula

BuildToExpress (Pre-K to Grade 5)
Machines & Mechanisms (K to Grade 7)
LearnToLearn (Grades 1 to 4)
MoreToMath (Grades 1 to 2)
WeDo (Grades 2 to 5)
StoryStarter (Grades 2 to 5)
MINDSTORMS (Grade 6 to 12)
- MINDSTORMS Education EV3
- MINDSTORMS Education NXT

Other Resources

LEGO Education forums
Junior First LEGO League (K to Grade 3)
First LEGO League (Grades 4 to 8)

Organize with Pinterest - Some of our boards:

Homeschool with LEGO
MINDSTORMS: Experiments & Tutorials
Learning with LEGO
LEGO Organizing

Follow these blogs

LEGO Education Blog
FrugalFun4Boys.com
WildflowerRamblings.com
Milk & Cookies Blog
JDaniel4sMom.com
LearningLiftoff.com
LivingMontessoriNow.com
KidsActivitiesBlog.com
blog.BrickMarketplace.com

Be Creative!

Have your own methods or ideas for better homeschooling with LEGO? Share them in a comment below or on our social media accounts! Let's do better homeschooling together.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How to Improve Hand-Eye Coordination with LEGO


Early Learning Activities to Develop Fine Motor Skills


Developing fine motor skills sooner helps children develop faster as they move through different developmental stages. These oft taken for granted skills make a world of difference in both physical and cognitive development. While gross motor skills develop first for infants, their fine motor skills will quickly follow. These smaller movements involve the use of the hands, fingers, wrists, feet, and toes. For instance, a one-year-old child uses gross motor skills to hold his body steady while utilizing fine motor skills to grasp a toy with his hands.

Considering how often we employ them, it’s no surprise that many parents wonder how to improve hand-eye coordination. A traditional game to help toddlers develop their hand-eye coordination is placing a favorite toy just out of reach. Three-year-olds and up often enjoy Play-Doh, which helps develop hand strength and dexterity. As children get older, building blocks such as LEGOs are a great way to further develop their fine motor skills.

For fun and interesting activities for developing fine motor skills, try one of these engaging activities with LEGOs to help develop hand-eye coordination.

LEGO Marble Bowling Game


  1. Find a sturdy board or place a poster board on a flat surface to create the bowling lane.
  2. Use 10 circular stickers to mark where to set up the LEGO bowling pins.
  3. Place the LEGO pieces on the ten stickers. You could experiment with different types of LEGO bowling pins to see which size works best.
  4. A large marble is a good choice for the bowling ball.
  5. Either roll or flick the marble toward the bowling pins and enjoy the game!

LEGO Marble Run

Image from
OctavioAndVicky.com

  1. Start with a LEGO base board and plenty of LEGO bricks.
  2. Make a perimeter for the marble run by placing the bricks around the edges of the base board. Leave two openings on either end for the marble’s entrance and exit.
  3. Begin to create the inner maze by placing the LEGOs in a pattern. It is best to gently put the bricks in place without pressing down until the desired maze has been completed.
  4. Be sure to leave plenty of room for the marble to roll freely when you are creating the maze’s pathways.
  5. Once the maze is complete, have fun rolling the marble from the entry to the exit.



Pipette Activity

Image from Fun at Home with Kids

  1. Get a variety of LEGO bricks, a glass of water, and an eyedropper or pipette.
  2. Fill the eyedropper or pipette with water.
  3. Gently fill the holes on the back of each LEGO without letting the water drops spill over.
  4. You could also fill up the back of the LEGO bricks completely to see how many drops of water will fill up each different size LEGO.

Balancing Marbles


  1. For this activity, grab a bunch of LEGOs and marbles.
  2. Place the marble on top of the LEGO bricks.
  3. Try balancing different size marbles on different types of LEGO bricks. See which marbles and LEGOs work best together.

Tong or Chopstick Challenge


  1. Start with two bowls, a pair of tongs or chopsticks, and a handful of LEGOs.
  2. The goal of this game is to move the LEGOs from one bowl to the other without dropping them on the table.
  3. For an even bigger challenge, try to use only one hand, or your non-dominant hand, while moving the LEGOs. You could also color code the LEGOs and move only one color to the other side.

Balancing Blocks


  1. Begin with a bunch of LEGO bricks and a smooth surface.
  2. Place the LEGOs on their smooth side and see how tall you can make the tower.
  3. Try mixing the LEGO bricks with different sizes for an even bigger challenge.

LEGO Head Rescue

Image from WhatWeDoAllDay.com

  1. Gather together a variety of LEGO mini figures and some therapy putty. Play-Doh can work, but therapy putty is available in different strengths.
  2. Take off the LEGO heads from the mini figure’s bodies.
  3. Smooth out the therapy putty to make a flat surface.
  4. Place the LEGO heads around the putty and roll the putty back into a ball.
  5. Ask your child to find the hidden LEGO heads and put them back onto their mini figure bodies.
  6. To mix it up a little, you can hide other parts of the body too, like arms, torsos, and legs.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

LEGO Art: 9 of the Biggest Epic Builds from the Past Year

Since LEGO was introduced in 1949, some pretty awe-inspiring LEGO art and almost unbelievable creations have been constructed–all from small plastic building blocks. For your enjoyment and inspiration, we’ve compiled some of the best and biggest LEGO builds from the past 12 months.

Pompeii – The story of Pompeii has been told countless times since its destruction in 79 AD. Today, at Sydney University’s Nicholson Museum, you can find a LEGO scale model of the old city constructed with over 190,000 bricks–the largest LEGO Pompeii city ever built. Ryan McNaught, ‘The Brickman,’ took 470 long hours to complete this LEGO city, and worked hard to re-create exactly how the town would have appeared in the moments before it was covered with ash and debris.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/pompeii-made-lego-stunning-190000-5050305

Millennium Falcon – With just two months and 10,000 LEGO bricks, Singapore-based LEGO builders Titans Creations constructed a model of the Millennium Falcon–the famous spacecraft commanded by Han Solo and his first mate Chewbacca in Star Wars–with an extremely detailed interior. Complete with a cockpit, multiple corridors, and hyperdrive lights, this Star Wars re-creation measures 3’ 7” by 3’ 3” and is even larger and intricate than the official UCS Millennium Falcon.

http://kotaku.com/it-took-10-000-lego-bricks-to-build-the-millennium-falc-1703555674

Death Star – Another LEGO creation inspired by Star Wars, this Death Star LEGO model is made up of over 500,000 LEGO bricks and weighs 1,900 lbs! On display in the LEGOLAND California theme park, this model was constructed by a team of 30 people over the course of 1,800 total hours and specifically designed to outlast California earthquakes so visitors can enjoy the creation for years to come.

http://laughingsquid.com/legoland-california-installs-a-giant-model-of-a-star-wars-death-star-made-up-of-500000-lego-bricks/

Mustafar Separatist Headquarters – Featured most heavily in the movie Star Wars Episode III, Mustafar is a small, fictional planet in the Star Wars universe that is home to the Separatist Headquarters. Polish LEGO artist Michal Kazmiercazk re-created these headquarters with over 60,000 pieces. For four months, he designed and constructed this detailed and stunning recreation that in the end came to stand nearly 5’ tall and measure 50” by 70”.

http://lego.gizmodo.com/this-60-000-piece-lego-mustafar-will-consume-you-in-fir-1642296895

Tower of Orthanc – From the popular book and movie series Lord of the Rings, this Tower of Orthanc LEGO creation took over 100,000 bricks (75,000 for the tower and 15,000 to 20,000 for the landscaping) and almost a full year to create. Designed and constructed by Brendan M from Game Informer, this 8’ tower now reigns supreme as the tallest LEGO Orthanc Tower in existence. Previously, a LEGO team called TheOneLug held the title with a 7’ tower.



http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/archive/2015/06/29/lego-lord-of-the-rings-tower-stands-over-8-feet-consists-of-75-000-bricks.aspx


Springfield – Using well over 500,000 bricks, LEGO builder and Simpsons super fan Matt De Lanoy constructed a model of Springfield–the fictional town from The Simpsons–over the course of six months. Due to size restraints, De Lanoy did not build the entire town, but instead grouped together important buildings from the show such as the Kwik-E-Mart, Moe’s Tavern, and many more.

http://www.lostateminor.com/2014/08/13/lego-fan-builds-scale-model-entire-town-springfield/


Cinderella Castle – Super-crafter Erik Jones took almost a year to design and build this massive Cinderella Castle. A longtime Disney fan, Jones was inspired to construct the castle after a real-life trip to Disneyworld. Jones stated one of the most difficult parts of building the castle was simply finding enough bricks. In the end, over 50,000 LEGO bricks were used. The castle stands over 6’ tall, is almost 5’ wide, and weighs more than 100lbs.


http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2015/02/02/five-foot-long-stud-free-lego-uss-enterprise-built-using-18000-bricks-pics/

USS Enterprise – Using over 18,000 pieces, LEGO building enthusiast Chris Melby managed to build a five-foot-long stud-free replica of the USS Enterprise–the main starship from the popular TV series Star Trek. Constructed over 8 months, this starship features a variety of custom pieces that give the ship its smooth appearance. The replica measures 68” long, 29” wide, and stands at about 32” with its wooden base.


http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2015/02/02/five-foot-long-stud-free-lego-uss-enterprise-built-using-18000-bricks-pics/

Taliesin West – This huge LEGO project is a model of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, studio, and architectural campus. Previously on display in Scottsdale, AZ, in Wrights’ real Taliesin West Home, architectural artist Adam Reed Tucker and 30 local school children spent a total of 420 hours researching, designing, and assembling this exquisite model. It measures about 8’ by 4’ and weighs around 500lbs.



Are there other creations you know of that should've been on our list? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Teaching the Alphabet with LEGO

How to Teach the Alphabet with LEGO


Learning to read is an incredibly powerful and transformative process. Most parents are eager to teach their kids the alphabet to jump start the reading process. However, teaching the alphabet isn't quite as simple as singing the old ABC song repeatedly. Kids can learn faster, and have a great deal of fun, with hands-on activities that involve them in learning the alphabet in novel ways.

When Should I Teach the Alphabet?


Teachers agree that kids are generally ready to start learning the alphabet around age four. It's no coincidence that this is about the time that many kids enter preschool. The growing mind is perfectly primed to learn at this age, and kids have mastered the repetition skills that will allow them to remember the alphabet.

As you embark on alphabet-learning adventures, keep in mind that every child is different. It may take some kids longer than others to catch on. That's why it's important to follow some best practices and be responsive to your child's unique needs. Remember that combining learning with play is often the most powerful way to communicate academic lessons to a young child. Be sure to practice patience, and understand that every child learns best in their own unique way. If you’re patient with the process of discovering their optimal learning mode, they will be too!

Teaching the Alphabet: Best Practices


First teaching experiences can seem daunting to first-time parents, but they don’t have to be. After all, teachers have largely mastered early teaching activities like imparting the alphabet. They've established practices that can be used at home as well as in the classroom. Anyone can benefit from embracing these simple letter-teaching guidelines.

Perhaps the most important is to encourage active learning. This is a type of learning in which kids get into subjects by doing activities. Very few children or adults learn best by listening to explanations of abstract concepts. Science projects might come to mind, but you can use toys and props to teach practically any subject. Hands-on interaction with the real world is one of the most significant ways that humans learn, and it makes sense to use hands-on tactics when teaching the alphabet.

Research suggests that active learning even encourages cognitive and emotional growth. You can help your child become invested in the alphabet-learning process by starting with your child's name. It's a word with which your child is intimately familiar, so each sound will make sense.

You should also use learning letters, or physical tools that can be used to model the alphabet. Choose letters in bright colors and interesting materials that will engage kids and capture their attention. LEGO bricks’ status as kid favorites, along with their versatility, make them great for use as learning letters.

How to Teach the Alphabet with LEGO


Building blocks allow for imaginative play, which means they also translate into great learning tools. LEGOs are an awesome choice for teaching the alphabet because you can choose the sizes and colors that meet your child's dexterity level and interests. Remember that you can also use your building bricks for fun math and counting games.

The Complete LEGO Alphabet & Flashcards


Image by Amy of Wildflower Ramblings, a parenting blog
Amy at Wildflower Ramblings has several great blogs on using LEGO bricks to make letters. You can also download her printable uppercase and lowercase flashcard sets. If you'd like, simply follow her procedure to make your own version of the flashcards.

LEGO Alphabet Activities
  • Sing the ABC song, holding up the appropriate flashcard for each letter.
  • Construct the alphabet together with the help of your flashcards.
  • Spell your child's name in LEGOs, then ask your child to spell it too.
  • Create a letter with LEGOs, then ask your child to guess which letter it is.
  • Make a sound such as sss and ask your child to find the letter that matches it.

LEGO-and-Dough Letters

Materials
  • Assorted LEGO bricks
  • Play clay
  • Rolling pin
  • Alphabet flashcards (optional)
How to Play
  1. Help child roll out play clay in a large rectangle or oval on a flat table.
  2. Show the child how to use LEGO bricks to make impressions in the clay.
  3. Demonstrate how to make a letter with play brick impressions. It's a great idea to use the first letter of the child's name.
  4. Ask the child to copy the letter that you've just made, encouraging the child along the way. Remember that learning how to form letters is a new motor skill.
  5. Write a letter for the child to copy on the dough. If desired, use alphabet flashcards as a model instead.

Alphabet Comprehension Check

Of course, it's always important to check comprehension when you introduce a new concept or skill to your child. You can quiz your kid on the alphabet by
  • saying a letter and asking your child to make it with LEGOs,
  • asking your kids to spell their names in LEGOs,
  • saying a letter and asking your child to make its impression in play clay,
  • showing an uppercase LEGO letter and asking your child to find its lowercase partner, or
  • having your child match alphabet flashcards with LEGO letters.
Get hands-on with comprehension activities too. As we’ve seen, combining an enjoyable play activity with learning is a great way to encourage growth and creativity while capturing your child's attention.



The activities described here were inspired in part by several posts by Amy of home schooling blog Wildflower Ramblings. Amy is a Kindergarten teacher, M.Ed., turned stay-at-home mom. Check out her blog for a wealth of great parenting info.