Back To School, Grades K-2, 2022
Welcome back, Early Elementary School Educators! We hope you had a restful, restorative summer and that you're excited to be back learning, building, and working with kids. In this Back to School blog, we borrow the concept of Learning Through Play to introduce you to the Product Resources Library and to help you reframe these resources for classroom use.
The session before diving into your first lesson, embrace the students' desire for free play--let them get the giggles out and explore the elements for a good five minutes (or more! --just be sure to set a limit) before directing them to choose a brick to explore. Some ideas for more direction:
- Choose your favorite brick! Explain to your group why you chose that brick.
- Which element is most interesting to you? What do you think you can build with it?
- Which element do you have the most questions about? How do you think it might be used? Are there other elements that are similar? What happens when you put them together?
- become familiar with the functional elements in the set
- be able to identify the movements of the functional elements
- build a conceptual understanding that larger objects are made of smaller elements or that machines are made of moving parts, depending on the set used
- observe and describe what they see
- explain their thinking and reasoning
This first session with LEGO bricks is also a good time to establish classroom norms for Learning Through Play. The best strategies should be co-developed with the students so they have ownership and buy-in for how the class uses the bricks. Common challenges, and some ideas to get you started, include
- Work-Space Designation: Use tablecloths, bulletin board paper, or tape to define floor space for each group to work within.
- Call-Response for students' attention--a clapping, snapping, or other hands-up call-response works better than a verbal one. It's hard to keep playing with bricks if students' hands are required to show they're listening!
- LEGO Down! If a very small brick is lost, a student can shout, "LEGO Down," and work can pause until the piece is located with the call, "LEGO found!"
- Lost Bricks--establish a container for found pieces to go as a temporary home.
- Precious Builds--students of all ages can be very attached to their creations and become upset when their build has to be deconstructed. Have a process for photographing, saving, and sharing these artifacts.
We also encourage you to add your ideas to the comments below! Share what works for your classroom or build off another's ideas! (If you are unable to comment below, sign up for a free LEGO ID which will give you full access to all Community and Professional Development resources.)
I love all this information- thank you! I'm going to start “LEGO down!” and “LEGO found!” with them tomorrow! I especially love your idea of taking pictures of their builds. I post pictures & videos to ClassDojo so their parents can see them. Sometimes I upload their videos to Seesaw and then generate a QR code for them so they can watch it there with their own device at home. There might be a more stream-lined way to do all of this, but that's what I have been doing thus far.