Thursday, February 25, 2016

BrickDreams: An Eagle Scout Service Project Idea

Eric Barlog with cans of LEGO ready to donate to BrickDreams
We recently ran a post on a charity called BrickDreams. This amazing non-profit, started by then-15-year-old Bailey Snow, provides used LEGO bricks to child victims of domestic abuse in and around Sacramento, California. If you’re looking for a service project idea, read on to learn how to get involved.

While researching the previous post and talking to the folks at BrickDreams, we were inspired to learn about an Eagle Scout candidate who gathered and donated 100 pounds of LEGO bricks for his Eagle Scout service project. We decided to tell his story and hopefully provide some Eagle Scout service project ideas to those looking for a good cause.

Eighteen-year-old Eric Barlog was inspired by BrickDreams’ mission to provide used LEGO bricks to child victims of abuse. As part of his Eagle Scout project, Eric made it a goal to gather 100 pounds. of used LEGO bricks to donate.

Over the course of nearly a year, his work paid off and he surpassed that goal. At the end of his campaign, he drove more than 100 pounds of LEGO bricks from his home in the Los Angeles area up to Sacramento. There, the LEGO bricks were distributed by Lleyton and Kyle Rutz, the current leaders of BrickDreams and Star-rank Boy Scouts themselves.

Connor Chang, Kyle Rutz, Lleyton Rutz, and Christopher Luo of Troop 121, Granite Bay, CA. All are active community volunteers for BrickDreams.
“One hundred pounds of LEGO will make about 200 cans that we donate to agencies working with child victims of abuse. That’s 200 kids who will benefit from Eric’s effort,” according to Lleyton Rutz, 13.

When taking the Boy Scout Oath, young men promise “to help other people at all times.” Service to community is a big part of that promise.

Scouting’s new requirements that took effect January 1, 2016, increase the number of service hours required to attain ranks. A Scout advancing to Eagle Scout will complete at least 18 hours of service, not including those spent on his Eagle Scout service project. That’s a 28 percent increase. Fortunately, most Scouts exceed the 18 hours without batting an eye.

“Volunteering with BrickDreams is something almost all ages can participate in. We don’t have a minimum age like many charities. Just some basic training is required. Most kids are LEGO experts, and that makes our charity perfect to partner with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts,” according to Kyle Rutz, 13.

“Two more local Troops contacted us this month to help with specific merit badge service requirements for Citizenship in the Community. We’re excited about all the support we’re getting.”

BrickDreams encourages other innovative ideas on how BrickDreams, Scouts, and other active community groups can partner. Representatives of BrickDreams said they are humbled by the massive donation of LEGO bricks from Eric Barlog and hope more across the country will get involved.

Check out our other post on BrickDreams, covering its mission, history, and future plans.

Contact BrickDreams to get involved.

Still need more Eagle Scout project ideas? Check out these links:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

How To Teach Spelling With 5 Fun Lego Activities

With the right activities, teaching kids to spell can be fun and rewarding for both teacher and child. If you’re wondering how to teach spelling to your kids, fun is essential! Adding in educational games with regular lessons not only makes learning more fun, but can make your teaching more effective. Games fulfill multiple needs for children and allow them to forget their inhibitions about learning and develop enthusiasm for a subject. We’ve come up with some of our favorite hands-on LEGO spelling activities you can complete with your kids right at home. From the least difficult to the most, here are our favorite LEGO games for teaching spelling to kids!


Image from MomInspiredLife.com

Building Sight Words

For children who are new to the alphabet, Building Sight Words is an excellent game to get them more interested in letters and sounding out words. Using large LEGO Duplo blocks and a printable sheet, kids can find letters on their own and put them in order to match words on the worksheet. Kids will love the hands-on aspect of playing with bricks while matching letters and forming words. Plus, you can easily expand the game by simply printing out more sheets!



LEGO Spelling!

Image from AustralianCurriculumLessons.com.au
The LEGO Spelling! game is designed for young children who are familiar with some letters of the alphabet; however, it can be modified to suit older children as well. This game uses LEGO blocks, whiteboards, and markers. It is focused on helping children pick up on different sounds in different words and figuring out which letter makes each sound. Because you can choose any word, LEGO Spelling! is an excellent way to build a beginner speller’s confidence. Because it’s only a game, you can keep kids’ motivation up by re-doing the same word so they can still ‘win’ the round. Depending on how your children learn best, this game can also be played in groups with other kids or individually.


Image from ThisReadingMama.com

Spelling with LEGOs

The Spelling with LEGOs game is easy to make and can last a lifetime. By writing different types of letters directly on different LEGO pieces, you can engage kids more easily and help them learn to spell by calling out words, and then having them snap together LEGOs with the correct letters to make each word. You can have them spell short words, long words, their name, or anything else, making it ideal for any child who already has an understanding of most letter sounds. You can also create a worksheet they can follow or have kids race to add an extra fun component!



Build a LEGO Figure

Image from SchoolTimeSnippets.com
Similar to hangman, children are bound to love this familiar game with a LEGO twist. Build a LEGO Figure simply requires LEGO pieces to build LEGO minifigures and an appropriate spelling level word list. On any piece of paper, write underscores for however many letters your chosen word has in it. If the child guesses a letter that isn’t there, they get one piece to start building a minifigure or add on to what they have. If they build a complete minifigure, the game is over! Kids will love spelling (or guessing) words as they also have fun building mismatched LEGO figures. Often, the LEGO figures are actually the best part of the game, and children won’t even mind losing when there’s humor involved.



LEGO Race Around

Image from HomeLiteracyBlueprint.com
The LEGO Race Around game is perfect for engaging siblings or even an entire classroom. Another game that can be adapted to suit different levels of spellers, this game features four stations where kids can practice spelling, writing, and constructing words in different formats to help increase their retention. Because this game can be overwhelming to some, it’s a good idea to take it slow with younger kids and eliminate the timer, and let older kids have a practice round so they don’t get discouraged. For kids who can’t sit still, however, this game is perfect! The stations can be adjusted and customized to best fit your child’s style of learning. Adding in trophy pieces the kids can collect after each round makes this game one of the most exciting for children.

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Whether you have your own kids at home or kids in a classroom, we understand it can be difficult to come up with new ways of teaching and engaging kids. When working with kids who are at different spelling levels, it becomes increasingly difficult. A LEGO Spelling Test is both a fun and easy way to let kids practice their spelling and test them without them feeling too much pressure. A blank LEGO Spelling Test with sentence dictation can be used with any spelling list and any language. Children learn through play, so when it comes to educational lessons, why not make it fun as often as possible?

Have your own unique LEGO spelling games? We’d love to hear them. Share your games and engaging teaching tricks with us in the comment section below!