One of the most powerful tools I have ever used in my classroom is LEGO. Admittedly, I am an AFOL, for those of you unschooled in the LEGO vernacular, that is Adult Fan Of Lego. At one time I hid this about myself, after all I am a 45 year old woman. If it is a true passion, however, it really is a commitment, and one that cannot be hid. The bright yellow bags are a dead give away.
My second love of LEGO came when I broke my leg a few years ago and had to be immobile for almost nine weeks. This was in the midst of the Monster Fighters sets. My first set was the Monster haunted house. It. was. amazing. I have never looked back. As my city continues to grow and daily conversation with my spouse involves negotiations for the garage, I knew I had to bring this love into the classroom.
There are a lot of drawbacks to using LEGO in the classroom BUT what it brings to the classroom far outweigh the negatives. Let’s get those out of the way. First, LEGO is $$$$$$. Even buying one set for each group of tables is going to set you back. If you are fortunate enough to have a principal who is supportive and will purchase sets, consider yourself quite lucky. I turned to Donors Choose. Creating a project is pretty easy and now that they have access to Amazon, the whole LEGO universe is at your disposal. The great thing about Donors Choose is that they will match you for the first week. This means technically, only half the money needs to be raised to fund the project. It helps to send a letter out to parents and ask for small donations. Everything begins to add up quickly. The whole process, from writing the proposal to having the LEGO in hand, took about two weeks.
Next, LEGO pieces will be all over your room. All part of classroom management. My students know my expectations. They know I am a LEGO fanatic and treat all the sets accordingly. This is the third year with the LEGO sets and they still look like they are new. It is all in the expectations you set forth. And as I said, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
There is nothing like the low hum of ideas being swapped back and forth in the classroom while the click of LEGO pieces is heard. Innovation and creativity are at the foundation of these wonderful days. I enjoyed it so much that I knew I had to have a set on each table so that they were always ready to go if the mood to create struck. This was certainly an obstacle for me. How could I organize this? (Monica Gellar is my idol by the way, organization makes me giddy with joy.) I am a bit of a purist when it comes to LEGO. When people start talking about mixing brands, I am out…immediately. Surprisingly enough, I found a case at Target on clearance for a few dollars. The yellow cases had blue and green base plates on the top and compartments on the inside. I bought one for each table and the rest is history. They have lasted almost three years now. They are readily available just like community supplies. It has been one of the best things I have ever done in the classroom.
In addition to great LEGO sets, there is also an amazing LEGO stop motion app. The app is TOTALLY FREE. It is fully functional, with sound and camera effects. The results are quite professional. Students love this app. It can be used to help students explain a number of concepts or any historical event. The possibilities are endless.
If you are considering LEGO in the classroom, I recommend it highly. Creativity skyrockets and ideas abound!