What I love about playtime is that it’s really not ever just playtime at all. Life is full of learning and there’s no better way of illustrating that than by watching a child engaged in what seems like simple entertainment. Whether it’s two toddlers developing basic social skills by sharing toys with one another or older kids learning to follow instructions by assembling a complex toy, children are almost always learning, even when it looks like they’re not!
In fact, one of my very favourite pastimes is to take a few minutes and just watch my boys playing together because it gives me a glimpse into the way that unstructured play can help them learn. That’s why I was absolutely thrilled when I was chosen to become a LEGO DUPLO Play Agent. Building with LEGO bricks is one of those activities that just naturally encourages creativity and both my boys have loved LEGO DUPLO since they received a tub of the bricks for Christmas two years ago. So having the chance to test out new LEGO DUPLO products each month had both boys absolutely giddy with anticipation.
LEGO DUPLO is one of those toys that my children had to learn about to use. I remember when Zackary first started playing with the colourful bricks; he would work so diligently at stacking them up as high as he possibly could, one brick on top of the other with no regard for the size or shape of each one. Of course, inevitably, his tower would become unstable and crash to the ground.
But one day he realized that by stacking the larger blocks at the bottom and putting the smaller ones at the top, he could build a taller, sturdier tower. It was such an amazing experience to see his trial-and-error constructions lead him to some basic knowledge of engineering.
Now Benjamin is the one developing those same concepts and so when we received a LEGO DUPLO Large Brick Box, Play with Letters set and Bricks and Books set this month, he couldn’t wait to start playing with all of them at once. I was especially excited to see the Play with Letters set, which featured the letters of the alphabet on each of the blocks. Zackary had a natural aptitude for reading from a very young age but Benjamin isn’t quite as far along with his letter recognition so I knew the set would provide me with a great opportunity to teach my youngest son about letters.
Benjamin, however, far preferred the Bricks and Books set and I have to admit that I really did enjoy this concept as well. The set came with a simple board book that Benjamin and I read together and the blocks to build all the characters in the book. To me, the great value in this set was in its ability to introduce the concept of abstract thinking. It takes imagination to be able to look at the simple brick creations and picture them as caterpillars, frogs and bugs. But after reading the story, Benjamin could correctly identify each character that we built together. And best of all, he was soon making up his own stories using those same characters!
Even in the few weeks that we’ve had our new LEGO DUPLO products, I’ve seen both of my boys develop some new skills and knowledge. From Benjamin’s increased letter recognition and interpretative thinking to Zackary’s newfound ability to recreate the constructions pictured on the front of the LEGO DUPLO containers, both boys have had so much fun playing and learning with LEGO. Take a look at some of the new products for yourself and see what new skills your children learn as they play!
Disclosure: I am a LEGO DUPLO Play Agent and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.