Our children have always loved to play with Lego. We started out with Duplo bricks, which were not only building blocks, but also teething toys. Whether it was themed or just regular old starter blocks, both of our children enjoyed these brightly colored, easy to handle manipulatives. Not only did it work on their hand-eye coordination, it also fostered their creativity. We would sit together on the living room floor building towers to use with action figures, roads to drive on, or chairs and beds for dolls to lay on. We were only limited by our imagination. Even to this day, we still have our "bucket of bricks" on the closet floor, there when we need a house for Barbie or a prison for a pirate, they are still there for us.
Within a short time, we realized that the kids were wanting to move on to bigger and better things, or shall I say 'smaller' and better things. They seemed to jump directly into the small kits that come with instructions and everything you need to put these together. A favorite for our son was Star Wars, followed closely by Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean. This was a nice transition as the directions are easy to follow, the high interest is there, and it kept their attention.
The only thing that we noticed was that there was a lack of girl themed kits. That has been addressed with the recent addition of the Lego Friends. Our daughter was so excited the first time she saw these pretty pink and pastel gals in the toy aisle. She couldn't get over the fact that they had made Lego just for her! We have noticed how this new theme has rekindled the love of this brand of toy for our little princess.
A most memorable scene that I have with Lego is when we were on our son's Make-A-Wish trip. His wish was to have a real life light saber battle with Darth Vader. While on the trip, a very kind father overheard us talking in a restaurant. As they were leaving, he handed us a gift card for the Lego store at Downtown Disney, and told our son to buy himself a little something. Overwhelmed, we thanked him and immediately began conversing of when we should go check it out. When we got there, he couldn't believe his eyes. He was amazed at the colored walls of individual bricks, the themed kits, and even a table to watch the workers put them together. That visit was made especially memorable as the manager of the store and a worker let our son help put together a space kit in the area that was just for workers and "special guests". The kind employee worked with our son, showing patience of a saint, and guiding him step by step. During this hour long experience, the store manager was talking with me and informing me of the history of Lego, the store that he was currently at, and where he came from which happened to be from the Mall of America area, which we would frequent often while our son was going through his radiation treatments. After a while, he politely excused himself, and a short while later he came back with a personalized Lego brick in our son's favorite color. This was a wonderful way to wrap up a visit to a store that not only allows children to build ideas, but also memories.
As both of our children continue to grow, they love to watch the Lego videos, read the books, and put together kits. Whether we are watching them spend countless hours on the floor putting their ideas into reality or working with them side by side to put it together, we see that spark in their eyes. The creativity that so many lack in today's world. The sheer pleasure of playing, using their imagination, and being inventive. I think of the quote from Pablo Picasso that states "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." In this world of competition, standardized tests, and constant concrete thinking, maybe we need to allow children to be an artist for as long as they can, and we as adults learn to be a little more like a child.