Lego club activities for the 7-10 set?
March 26, 2013 2:35 PM   Subscribe

I expressed interest in leading a Lego club for younger kids, which will take place at a local library. While I have a Lego fan at home, I have never led formal building exercises, and I'd be happy to hear your ideas for manageable, fun group activities.

A few specifics: This would be a group of not more than 10 kids, seated at a single table in a room set apart from the main library. There's not a ton of space, so larger projects are probably out (but small vignettes would work well). No robotics involved. Sessions would probably run for less than an hour, over the course of eight weeks.

I'd like to send the kids home with a small assignment each week (can you suggest any specific tasks, or direct me to a website with ideas for building small?) so that show-and-tell is first on the agenda. If you have a young builder in the house, what would he or she like to learn about, as far as techniques go? I'd also like to talk about the larger Lego universe -- things like the magazine, or relevant cool sites, or about current sets, or how bricks are made, or ...? Ideas on those subjects are welcome too. How can I design a cumulative group project, using techniques that they learn? Examples, please? If you were going to do these sessions, what would *you* like to see included? If you have run a similar group, what worked well for you? What kind of techniques should I cover?

tl; dr: I have more willingness than expertise in leading a Lego club for kids. Please help me figure out how to help younger builders learn to do some cool new stuff with their bricks. Links appreciated. Thanks, Hive Mind!
posted by MonkeyToes to Education (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
What about keeping things open ended within a given theme, like "show us what your dream house would look like", or "come up with the craziest looking structure you can with only 30 pieces total"? Maybe the first 10 minutes of each meeting could be show and tell, then you do a quick demonstration, and then you give the kids time to work on their next project?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 2:40 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could even put an object out (like an apple or something) and the kids could try to construct it as realistically as possible using the Legos at hand!
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 2:41 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

For the Lego Universe, one lesson could include some pictures of amazing huge lego creations that others have done. You could just ooh and ahh, or you could incorporate that into a lesson - how many bricks do you think it took? How would you approach this if you would build it? How many different kinds/colors of bricks can we pick out? etc.
posted by CathyG at 2:44 PM on March 26, 2013

Also, what's the age range that you think would attend this?
posted by CathyG at 2:45 PM on March 26, 2013

Also, what's the age range that you think would attend this?

7-to-10, I'm hoping.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:48 PM on March 26, 2013

Have you looked at the Lego site for curriculum? Out lego program in my public library get 30-40 kids in that age range and is much more free form out of necessity.
posted by saucysault at 2:55 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

How strict are you on the homework (e.g. are you expecting that everyone will show up with something)? Depending on where you are, I can imagine plenty of situations where the Lego club may be the only time the kid gets to play with Lego at all, so some way to mitigate potential embarrassment would be necessary.
posted by divabat at 3:01 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Someone used to run an on-line thing for homeschoolers called Lego Quest, where she gave kids a challenge every week. It might be to build whatever they could from a certain collection of pieces, or to do an outdoor scene, or all kinds of different things. My kids did some of the challenges and enjoyed them. You might get some ideas from scrolling through her archives.
posted by not that girl at 3:02 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you also like robots, you could look into Junior FIRST LEGO League: "Focused on building an interest in science and engineering in children ages 6-9, Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) is a hands-on program designed to capture young children's inherent curiosity and direct it toward discovering the possibilities of improving the world around them. Just like FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®), this program features a real-world challenge, to be solved by research, critical thinking and imagination. Guided by adult coaches and the Jr.FLL Core Values, students work with LEGO elements and moving parts to build ideas and concepts and present them for review."
posted by jcrbuzz at 3:36 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

I coached a Jr. FLL team last year and the materials they gave me were pretty helpful. There was as much of a focus on team-building as there was building-with-Legos, which I thought was a good idea. The materials they gave me were pretty helpful for planning, and I could tweak them as I saw fit. I incorporated more information about simple machines than the Jr FLL materials focused on, and the kids really enjoyed it.
posted by stinker at 4:11 PM on March 26, 2013

My kid is 6 and in Lego club at school, and their assignments/projects are pretty abstract like "build a community" or "invent a new planet." Also Lego club is so popular that they meet in four teams on alternating weeks, which was... Unanticipated!
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:13 PM on March 26, 2013

They have kits called LEGO Master Builder Academy that are supposed to teach building techniques. I don't know how well they work though. LEGO also has a website dedicated to educational uses for LEGO.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 6:03 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

How Stuff Works (links to a search on lego) has some stuff you might find helpful.
posted by kathrynm at 2:09 AM on March 27, 2013

The Master Builder Academy mentioned by EatenByAGrue above is an excellent program, but would probably be for the older kids in your 7-10 age group. Not that a 7-year-old can't follow the instructions given, but I think a 9-10-year-old would get more out of it.

posted by kuanes at 10:41 AM on March 27, 2013

If you're looking for techniques, I recently saw this PDF ebook which covers different building techniques. It might give you some ideas.
posted by villafoyager at 9:19 AM on March 28, 2013

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