Why Lego Is Such A Brilliant STEM Toy
Lego Is Great For Learning
LEGO is one of the world's most popular toys, and there's a good reason for that. The coloured blocks from that famous Danish company are unique in their ability to appeal to children and adults alike. From the very young to the old, the appeal of LEGO is quite universal; we all love it! But while adult fans of LEGO exist and are a quite prolific market for the company, children are still their main market. Lego is in essence, a toymaker -- but the company manages to create both wonderfully entertaining toys, as well as educational ones. Often in the same product! In this article, we will explore why we think LEGO is such a good educational toy.
It is versatile
LEGO bricks by themselves are a powerhouse for creativity. Brightly coloured and varied, you can build anything (or almost anything) with them. It's their main feature, and most powerful educational tool, as playing LEGO bricks stimulate several competencies in young (and even older) children. These vary from literacy (reading and following instructions, telling stories) to motor skills (putting their creations together, holding small pieces).
This isn't a trivial thing. For children, LEGO can be a challenge in coordination and fine motor control. The special line for younger, toddler-age children is especially good for this, as well as hand-eye coordination. Children will learn these skills even through an unsupervised playtime, as it's part of the very core of LEGO.
But more than that, the versatility of the bricks is what makes it so good for a fundamental aspect: creativity.
Creativity might be one of the most valued skills in the 21st century, if not the most valued. This isn't by chance. Creativity is fundamental in all industries, even those not necessarily thought of as creativity-intense.
By their very nature, LEGO stimulates children to create things with them, according to their own imaginations. Even when talking about sets which come with instructions for building, the creativity is still engaged during playtime. Minifigures and accessories are an excellent way to make children create their own narratives and stories.
Many sets have alternate builds as well, and the pieces of course can be used to build more than just what is on the box. This is one of the greatest strengths of LEGO: specific sets won't have their usefulness and interest tied to what's on the box, but can be mixed with other sets to create even bigger, better things.
Beyond the basic LEGO sets, there is also a wide variety of sets available. Some teach very specialised skills such as robotics. They also have sets made for schools, to teach skills such as counting and math to very young children. While these sets focus on school environments, where children can learn about several things as well as interact with each other, it's also possible to play them at home or another social environment.
Socialization is also something LEGO encourages. With many sets, children can cooperate to build and to play, as they usually come with several minifigures and accessories. Children will learn how to cooperate, work together and play out their stories according to their imaginations.
In robotics, especially, LEGO is useful for learning both programming and how to create robots themselves. Not only these are very useful skills but they're also built in a fun, useful manner. People build amazing things using LEGO MINDSTORMS, but for newcomers to robotics, it's a very useful educational tool -- by design, as children can easily use it. It's made for them. If you’re stuck on which LEGO sets are best, there are plenty of LEGO websites which review all of the sets on the market. A couple of our favourite websites are Brick Pals and The Brick Blogger.
One of the greatest advantages of LEGO is that it's just plain fun. That makes learning and picking up skills much easier. Rather than focus on boring lessons, experimenting, creating and playing are the tools of learning. This makes the whole process easier, and by the very nature of the toy, almost inevitable.
Play is very important for young children, as it is through play that they discover the world, exercise their imagination, and train their bodies. It's often a forgotten aspect in our high stakes, fast-paced society. Children learn many social, physical and mental capabilities while playing and fortunately, LEGO is a toy that can aid in all of them.
In a very underplayed aspect, LEGO is something that can be done in family. Whether it's a parent, grandparent, teacher or other caregiver, the family members can engage in play with the child in a way that's easy and educational at the same time. Shapes, colours, how pieces fit, the basics of physics, even, communication and teamwork, are some of the natural consequences of engaging in building (and deconstructing) LEGO sets and builds.
Of course, educational though LEGO is, it's interaction and guidance that will enrich the experience. Stimuli should come through the toy itself and the adults responsible for the child. While it's an useful tool, a very good one at that, one shouldn't really on self-teaching alone, but engage the child in play.
The fun aspect however will encourage children to seek it for themselves and play even by themselves, or together with family and friends. This is valuable time that should be encouraged, under supervision for younger children, and why not with the whole family?