Build­ing skills

Pop­u­lar build­ing blocks have plenty of fans in this area

Cape Breton Post - - News - Yvonne Kennedy Youth in Ac­tion Yvonne Kennedy is a re­tired teacher and a mem­ber of the Cape Bre­ton-Vic­to­ria Re­gional School Board. She lives in Homeville and can be con­tacted at mlkenned@sea­

On Jan­uary 28, 1958, a patent was filed that would change the way chil­dren would play all over the world.

On that fate­ful day, the Lego brick was born.

The clas­sic Lego brick was de­signed by a Dan­ish car­pen­ter named Ole Kirk Kris­tiansen. He named his prod­uct “Lego” af­ter the Dan­ish phrase “leg godt” or “play well.” The Lego com­pany passed from fa­ther to son and is now owned by Kjeld Kris­tiansen, a grand­child of the founder. How about that for keep­ing the busi­ness in the fam­ily.

Be­yond the fun fac­tor, the brightly col­ored pieces and easy in­ter­lock­ing com­bi­na­tions pro­vide many hours of pat­tern­ing prac­tice and fine-mo­tor de­vel­op­ment. Chil­dren of all ages de­velop cre­ativ­ity, prob­lem solv­ing and team­work through play­ing with Lego.

Since the in­ven­tion of this toy, more than 400 bil­lion Lego blocks have been made. That is an un­be­liev­able 62 blocks for ev­ery per­son on the planet.

Ev­ery sec­ond, seven Lego sets are sold in the world. Bricks made to­day have the same bumps and holes and can in­ter­lock with the bricks made 50 years ago.

Play­ing with Lego bricks pro­motes fine mo­tor skills and de­vel­ops co-or­di­na­tion and dex­ter­ity which are skills that young chil­dren need for hand­writ­ing, crafts and in­de­pen­dent dress­ing. Build­ing with Lego blocks also go a long way in de­vel­op­ing cre­ativ­ity. It just ig­nites their imag­i­na­tion and opens the door to a mil­lion pos­si­bil­i­ties for young chil­dren.

Scores of ar­chi­tects and en­gi­neers have trans­lated a love of Le­gos into a ca­reer in build­ing and de­sign. Some­thing as sim­ple as mak­ing sure kids have ex­po­sure to blocks could set them up for a fu­ture ca­reer.

When chil­dren play, they are con­stantly learn­ing new skills. Play is the sin­gle, most im­por­tant ac­tiv­ity for chil­dren to en­gage in, each and ev­ery day. The re­search ev­i­dence is over­whelm­ing in doc­u­ment­ing the power of play for emo­tional well-be­ing, so­cial de­vel­op­ment and aca­demic achieve­ment of our chil­dren.

It can be dif­fi­cult to find toys that are en­gag­ing for chil­dren yet stim­u­late cre­ativ­ity as well as pro­mot­ing in­tel­lec­tual and phys­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. Lego just seems to be per­fect!

My own chil­dren are many years away from Lego play but some re­cent posts on Face­book have re­newed my in­ter­est in this time­less toy.

The par­ent group at John Bernard Croak School in Glace Bay have a very ac­tive site on Face­book to keep the par­ents up-to­date on what is go­ing on in this el­e­men­tary school. I have a fond­ness in my heart for this school since I taught there many years ago and I still run into some of my former stu­dents. Be­sides the usual posts about milk money and pizza events, I started to no­tice that there was a very ac­tive Lego club.

This peaked my cu­rios­ity so I vis­ited Prin­ci­pal Ron Muller to get some in­for­ma­tion for this col­umn.

The John Bernard Croak Lego Club is run by Mil­lie Detchervery and Chris MacAu­lay. They started this club be­cause many ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties are of­ten geared to stu­dents who play sports. This club al­lows ev­ery stu­dent to par­tic­i­pate and feel suc­cess­ful. The club op­er­ates ev­ery Thurs­day evening and is open to stu­dents from pri­mary to grade two.

The pro­gram al­lows both par­ents and chil­dren to so­cial­ize with their peers and to use their imag­i­na­tion and cre­ativ­ity. It also teaches them how to share and work col­lab­o­ra­tively and build a sense of com­mu­nity out­side of the reg­u­lar school hours.

“It is so nice to see chil­dren and par­ents work­ing to­gether to cre­ate some­thing out of noth­ing,” says Muller. “Stu­dents are so proud when their work is dis­played in the show­case in the front foyer. Visi­tors to the school can view and ad­mire their cre­ativ­ity. This pro­gram re­ally brings fam­i­lies to­gether and teaches them the life­long skill of prob­lem solv­ing. It is amaz­ing to watch our fu­ture ar­chi­tects, en­gi­neers and builders work­ing to­gether in a col­lab­o­ra­tive stu­dent-cen­tered en­vi­ron­ment.”

The ex­cite­ment in this school about the Lego club made me dream about the pos­si­bil­ity of some of our read­ers help­ing to en­large this pro­gram.

Per­haps, there are long-for­got­ten boxes of Lego blocks in our at­tics or base­ments that our own chil­dren have long out­grown. I can’t think of a bet­ter place to do­nate these blocks so that young minds can be stim­u­lated.

If you feel a bit more gen­er­ous, you could con­sider go­ing to a lo­cal toy depart­ment to pur­chase a Lego kit for the JBC Lego Club. Can you just imag­ine the look of joy on the faces of these young chil­dren as they tear the plas­tic off a brand new box of Le­gos.

Who knew that lit­tle Lego bricks could mean so much to our young stu­dents in the Cape Bre­ton-Vic­to­ria Re­gional School Board.

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