Tag Archives: Lego®

The Brick Chronicles :: If I Built a House

The Brick Chronicles feature unique creations made with Lego® bricks. Hopefully you, and the children in your life, will find them as inspiring as I do!

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More stories, more creative challenges. After reading If I Built a House, the students came up with their own special house (or featured room)…with only their imaginations to limit them.

Built by Rebecca, age 10. The green upstairs is a secret hideout with a security camera and the downstairs has a pool with a diving board. My kind of place!

Built by Rebecca, age 10. The green upstairs is a secret hideout with a security camera and the downstairs has a pool with a diving board. My kind of place!

This room has windows and can detach with rocket boosters. (The green circle in the middle is a bean bag to relax upon). Built by Owen, age 7.

This room has windows and can detach with rocket boosters. (The green circle in the middle is a bean bag to relax upon). Built by Owen, age 7.

This is Colt's pool room, complete with a waterfall that you can go beneath and a water slide.

This is Colt’s pool room, complete with a waterfall that you can go beneath and a water slide.

An anti-gravity room with a giant flag. Built by Wes, age 9.

An anti-gravity room with a giant flag. Built by Wes, age 9.

This is a video game room with a big TV and a video controller in the middle of the room. Built by Rainer, age 8.

This is a video game room with a big TV and a video controller in the middle of the room. Built by Rainer, age 8.

This "Plant Room" was inspired by Elijah's mom. This room has grass walls, plants everywhere, a beach and a palm tree. Built by Elijah, age 8. (Elijah's mom - you are one lucky lady!)

This “Plant Room” was built for Elijah’s mom (who is one very lucky lady)! This room has grass walls, plants everywhere, a beach and a palm tree. Built by Elijah, age 8.

 

 

 

The Brick Chronicles :: Iggy Peck, Architect

The Brick Chronicles feature unique creations made with Lego® bricks. Hopefully you, and the children in your life, will find them as inspiring as I do!

Sightseeing Tower of When, built by our assistant, Briana.

Sightseeing Tower of When, built by our assistant, Ms. Briana.

For camp this past week, we started each morning with circle time. I read a children’s book and the kids built something based on the ideas from the book. The students from this week’s camp enjoyed these challenges so much that we ended up reading a book and building before our afternoon work time as well.

While I am usually a big advocate of listening while building, I did hold off on giving them legos® until the end of the story. Then, one by one, they would go and choose a “plate” full of pre-selected pieces. I limit them to a certain number of pieces because we only have so much time for building…and because it encourages them to be creative with the pieces that they do have.

I read Iggy Peck, Architect and the children were encouraged to build something related to architecture and/or buildings.

Eiffel Tower, built by Elijah, age 8.

Eiffel Tower, built by Elijah, age 8.

A work tower with a parking lot, built by Owen, age 7.

A work tower with a parking lot, built by Owen, age 7.

The Tower of the Empire of Ducky, built by Wes, age 9.

The Tower of the Empire of Ducky, built by Wes, age 9.

A Super Party Castle with a bridge, built by Colt, age 9.

A Super Party Castle with a bridge, built by Colt, age 9.

The small building is an apartment complex and was built by Rainer, age 8.

The small building is an apartment complex and was built by Rainer, age 8.

This is a portal which will teleport you to where you want to go. Built by Rebecca, age 10.

This is a portal which will teleport you to where you want to go. Built by Rebecca, age 10.

A couple of days later, the kids were excited to revisit Iggy in Ms. Greer’s 2nd grade class in the book, Rosie Revere, Engineer. These are fabulous books with good, inspirational stories. I highly recommend them!

The Brick Chronicles :: Lego® WeDo Household Appliance Challenge

The Brick Chronicles feature unique creations made with Lego® bricks. Hopefully you, and the children in your life, will find them as inspiring as I do!

Check out these Vimeo submissions for the “Household Appliance” Challenge. After a few days of working through the classic Lego® builds (i.e. the ones where you follow the instructions), I challenge the students to come up with their own creations. Of course, they have to do all of the programming all by themselves!

 

 

The Brick Chronicles :: Bugs!

The Brick Chronicles feature unique creations made with Lego® bricks. Hopefully you, and the children in your life, will find them as inspiring as I do!

Snail, made by Calum, age 6. Inspired by the Lego® web site videos.

Snail, made by Calum, age 6. Inspired by the Lego® creator videos that can be found on their web site.

I read the fabulous book, Big Bug Surprise, to my students at camp and challenged them to make bugs – from lego® bricks. We love, love, love this book at our house and it’s full of educational insights into bugs (and spiders) yet still tells a cute story. It fits my criteria for reality-based fiction books completely.

We’ve built some “bugs” at home, but this was the first time I had tried it with my students at camp. It didn’t go over so well.

I think this was one challenge that they had never actively pursued at home and so it was much more difficult for them. Cars and trucks seem so much easier! In fact, most of them veered wildly from the topic of bugs. But, I did have one student who went back to the WeDo set and software and came up with a scenario that caught Max and Mia (the Lego® characters) as they were in the process of constructing their own bug.

 

The Brick Chronicles :: Creating Your Own Lego® Challenges

The Brick Chronicles feature unique creations made with Lego® bricks. Hopefully you, and the children in your life, will find them as inspiring as I do!

The "can you build a food truck" challenge - created by me. Challenge taken by by Alex, age 7.

The “can you build a food truck” challenge – created by me. Challenge taken by Alex, age 7.

As will often happen during a long day of camp, the students encountered a lull in the afternoon and needed a little “help” to overcome it (without running around the classroom). If it wasn’t 98° outside, I would have just taken them outside. But, since I was concerned with heat stroke, I pulled out my handy Lego® challenges instead!

I was working with seven and eight-year-olds and they would much rather do their own thing. So, I let them.

Challenge created and built by Alex, age 7.

Challenge created and built by Alex, age 7.

Challenge created and taken by Alex, age 7.

Challenge created and taken by Alex, age 7.

Challenge created and taken by Will, age 8.

Challenge created and taken by Will, age 8.

Challenge created and taken by Alex, age 7.

Challenge created and taken by Alex, age 7.

 

 

 

The Brick Chronicles :: Making Maps with Legos®

The Brick Chronicles feature unique creations made with Lego® bricks. Hopefully you, and the children in your life, will find them as inspiring as I do!

IMG_0719I used the idea of 3-D maps to jump start the creative process with my young students in camp this past week. This was the first time I had suggested maps (with Legos®) and I love how it sparked our creativity. I think it would be a great activity to challenge older students to make a variety of maps using only Lego® bricks. This could be such an interesting student-led project for geography and cartography. To see some very sophisticated and complex builds, check here and here.

I read the book, Me on the Map, to my students and they had a blast following along with this simple book. In the past, I’ve had students draw their own “birds-eye view” maps, but this time we did it all with bricks and they carried their maps over to their computer work stations to build the WeDo airplane (which they had to program all by themselves). Next time, I will start with the drawing of a flat map (bird’s eye view) and then move on to building one with Lego® pieces (topographical or 2-D maps).

A map of The White House (complete with lawn). Made by Rylin, age 10.

A map of The White House (complete with lawn). Made by Rylin, age 10.

A Texas-sized island, made by Eliot, age 12.

A Texas-sized island, made by Eliot, age 12.

A map of the Mt. Everest summit, including memorial and old church. Made by Alex, age 7.

A map of the Mt. Everest summit, including memorial and old church. Made by Alex, age 7.

A map of a mountain shopping plaza. Made by Daniel, age 7.

A map of a mountain shopping plaza. Made by Daniel, age 7.

A map of Jurassic Park. Made by Will, age 8.

A map of Jurassic Park. Made by Will, age 8.

 

 

 

 

WeDo Robotics Camp :: Cotton Ball Launcher Challenge

During camp, the students work with the Lego WeDo® software to learn simple computer programming concepts. Some of these concepts include:

  • every program needs to be told to start (green start arrow)
  • programmers tell the computer when to stop (motor off blocks)
  • computers run programs really, really fast, so we need to tell it to slow down (wait blocks)
  • If we want the computer to wait for input from the sensors, we need to tell the computer to do so (we use “wait for” blocks with attached motion or tilt sensor blocks)

As we progress during camp, more of the building and programming is done solely by the students. They receive no instructions on how to build these creations and they figure out the programming all on their own (with guidance given by me, as needed). Some of these challenges are created by me and many I have learned about from Dr. E’s We Do Challenges. These are some of my students’ responses to this challenge…

 

The Brick Chronicles :: If I Built a Car

The Brick Chronicles feature unique creations made with Lego® bricks. Hopefully you, and the children in your life, will find them as inspiring as I do!

If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dussen

If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen

This week, I have Lego® Robotics camp for children, ages 7 -12. We are working with the WeDo software and the robotic Lego® parts, but I’m also trying to incorporate some creative brainstorming sessions with the kids. They have enthusiastically approached these challenges and have made some really interesting creations. To spark off our exercise this morning, I read If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen. In this silly, rhyming book, the young boy imagines what his car would look like if he was not limited by current technology.

Made by Rylin, age 10

A hovercraft drag racer. Made by Rylin, age 10

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A car with a hologram roof that is powered by thermal heat. Made by Daniel, age 7.

An automated car that can be turned into a missile. Made by Alex, age 7

An automated car that can be turned into a missile. Made by Alex, age 7

A police car with extra safe bumpers (in green). Made by Eliot, age 12.

An innovative police car with extra safe bumpers (in green). Made by Eliot, age 12.

A transforming car that becomes waterproof when it dives underwater. Made by Will, age 8.

A transforming car that becomes waterproof when it dives underwater. Made by Will, age 8.

This car has a swimming pool and an automated ice cream machine. Made by Liz, 29. Ha ha ha!

This car has a swimming pool and an automated ice cream machine. Made by Liz, age 29. Ha ha ha!

 

 

 

Rent your Legos® with Pley :: A Personal Review

A Pley package arrives at the house.

A Pley package arrives at the house.

In our ongoing attempts at minimalism (and I use that term very loosely), I have been seeking out new types of gifts for our kids. The boys are 6 and 9, and are dedicated Lego® fans. They love building and creating and recreating with these tiny magical plastic blocks. But, they have enough.

Many of our bricks come from numerous birthday and Christmas gifts given to our older child. He has lots of experience building new sets, but his younger brother doesn’t (and I’m not about to go through and “create” a set from the random Lego® pieces). We’ve tried. It takes forever. My time is more valuable than that. Enter Pley.

Pley is a budding company that rents Lego® sets. They are based in California and for a monthly fee, you get complete sets mailed to your home. Put them together, admire them, take them apart and send them back. You are even allowed to miss a few parts on the return trip. They understand that kids lose some Legos®…that’s okay.

Your set comes in a red mesh bag -- supposedly "disinfected" after each use.

Your set comes in a red mesh bag — supposedly “disinfected” after each use.

My sister-in-law took up our call for alternative gifts and gave both boys a 2-month subscription to the service as a Christmas gift. Unfortunately, it seems that this was a pretty popular idea since all of the sets my children “chose” were unavailable. That’s right, out of a list of 25 items that they wanted to build, none of these were available. Since there were two separate accounts, that’s 50 unavailable sets. Many of these were the popular Lego® movie or Minecraft sets…items that we wouldn’t really buy for them anyway. They still received sets to build – mostly from the Lego City collection – and we were lucky that we didn’t have any of the sets we received. If they don’t have it on your list, they’ll send what they have based on the categories you’ve chosen.

Another disappointment was that many of the first sets we received were missing a few critical pieces. Often, this was temporarily replaced by a piece from our set, but this initially caused some frustration with our oldest, rule-abiding child. In the end, we re-framed this “problem” as a way of dealing with adversity and change and he came out all the better for it.  However, as a paying customer, that was a big let down.

The first set we received for my nine-year-old...a miniature Big Ben.

The first set we received for my nine-year-old…a miniature Big Ben.

Another issue that we encountered was the distance from our house to their facility in California. It took weeks for our next Pley set to arrive. We were given a 2-day return postage, but often our account was not credited with a return for another week. Then, it took another week for them to mail out another set. Travel time between California and Florida adds on another number of days. If you allow the kids a few days to build and a few days to admire their creations, this amounts to one set per month.

My recommendation? If you live in California, or nearby, and have plenty of Legos®, but want a few months of new builds, use this service. If you are further away and the time is near a major holiday, invest in a new set and buy some Lego books to further interest in their building. Although my review wasn’t exactly favorable, I do look forward to seeing this company grow in the coming years and hope they will be able to place facilities throughout the U.S. to mitigate some of the above issues.

 

 

The Brick Chronicles :: Accident Reversal Squad

The Brick Chronicles feature unique creations made with Lego® bricks. Hopefully you, and the children in your life, will find them as inspiring as I do!

Made by R, age 9

Made by R, age 9

Yesterday, my children came home from playing with cousins and happily met their Legos® after a week-long absence. They were excited to jump right in and build. This accident reversal squad is modeled after the “accidental magic reversal squad” from Harry Potter. My nine-year-old is currently obsessed with these books and they are influencing all sorts of play.