Category Archives: Brick Chronicles

The Brick Chronicles :: Lego® Crane

As the kids get older, they have more outside interests. They also have more at-home responsibilities. This has meant less free time to relax and build freely with LEGO bricks. However, after seeing the Art of the Brick, my kids have been inspired to work with their Legos®. Their rooms have been flooded with bricks and there has been some yelling as we, the parents, have stepped on them. Otherwise, let the building commence!

a picture of a boat and a cargo crane made out of lego bricks. A lego crane

Lego® crane made by R, age 11. The boat was pre-built, but he created everything else.

I’m not sure I will be restarting the Brick Chronicles series, but you can check out our past posts. Some of my favorites include: Ode to Crash Course, Mini Lego Cruise Ship, Articulated Lego Truck, Hinged Box, EV3 Conveyor Belt, Mini Lego Microscope, and the Feeder Machine.

Happy building!

an upclose picture of a lego crane made out of lego bricks

The Brick Chronicles – Lego Name Tag

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!

pic of lego nametag - says JOE

Made by Liz, for her husband Joe. Sadly, he didn’t even wear it!

I came up with this Lego name tag while brainstorming some Lego challenges for last month’s summer expo. I was trying to find something fun, but unique, that would be easy for kids to make.

I had some pin backings on hand (from our hand-sewn pin project), and there’s always a hot glue gun in arm’s reach. A quick Lego build combined with a little hot glue, and you have an instant name tag. Thankfully, the hot glue gun was low temp so it didn’t melt the Lego base.

pic of back of lego name tag

One of my favorite things about hot glue is how easily it will come off of certain surfaces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
You don’t need to be limited to just name tags. You could have students use their initials, especially if their name is too long to fit. You could design an art pin that displays the concept of contrast or encompasses 3-D structures. The possibilities are endless. And, when you are done, pull off the hot glue and return the legos to the bin.

Brick Chronicles – An Ode to Crash Course

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!

crash-course-set-in-legos

Made by R, age 10. After an epic morning of lego building, he emerged with this ‘Crash Course’ set.

Crash Course – Made with Legos

My ten-year-old has been watching Crash Course videos for a couple of years. He found them through Kahn Academy and introduced the entire family to John Green’s hilarious renditions of history. Not only is John Green funny, but these videos are highly educational and reinforce the short chapter lessons we are already reading about in our history curriculum, Story of the World.

I don’t assign these videos. I don’t have to. The kids (and I) love the format, and I think they enjoy them because they are vaguely aware of the people and events he showcases. Lately, I am being asked (more and more) if they can watch a crash course video during their down time. Quite often, I am sitting there watching with them. They are that good.

crash-course-in-legos

As my children like to say, “Mr. Green! Mr. Green!”

Language Alert for Crash Course

Depending on how old your children are (and how sensitive you are to language), parental supervision may be required. The videos are directed at teenagers and adults, so some “potty” language is to be expected. For my own family, I don’t worry too much, but my seven-year-old has also taken a liking to these videos. I like to keep an ear out while they watch, so we can discuss John’s language use, if and when such language comes up. It’s similar to Mike Rowe’s descriptions in the show, ‘Dirty Jobs.’ The content is engaging and has an appropriate delivery for adults, but you may need a little extra guidance with young ones.

Crash Course for Kids

That being said, there is a fabulous series called, Crash Course for Kids. I’ve used these short videos while teaching about the constellations. It’s a relatively new venture and at this point, the videos only cover science topics. Regardless, they are entertaining, fast-paced and provide another way to reinforce a particular topic.

crash-course-lego-yellow-chair

A close-up of the fireplace – and yellow chair – where John reads his “open letter.”

So, thank you, Crash Course staff, we appreciate all that you do!

Brick Chronicles – Lego Island

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!

Picture of a lego island - made out of legos

Made by R, age 10 and C, age 7.

This Lego island is brought to you by an inspiration in model trains. Yes, you read that right – model trains! This Lego creation came about because my sons picked up some cheap (and old) model railroading magazines from the Friends of the Library sale last month. They have been enthralled with the tiny model towns and intricate set designs.

I’ve suggested that they should try and create such scenery with the materials the already have, so there has been a lot of brainstorming and prototyping. In fact, there is a current experiment involving dirt, a popsicle stick and some paint. All in an attempt to recreate the texture of buildings.  Thankfully for my sake, there haven’t been too many of such experiments. But, there has been a lot of lego building. And, that’s something I can support!

Lego Island

a picture of a 5 x 5 lego island, made from legos

One of these first projects where they actually shared the duties equally (usually it’s the oldest who does most of the work).

 

Brick Chronicles – Lego Duck

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!

a duck made from legos

Lego Duck, made by one of the kids who stopped by our booth.

Lego Duck

We had a variety of ‘Lego Challenges’ on hand for last weekend’s Summer Camp Expo. One of those challenges happened to ask, “can you build a duck?” I can’t say it was as popular as the “can you build a food truck” challenge (those wheels have quite the appeal), but I was intrigued by the kids who tackled a somewhat difficult challenge.

It was interesting to observe the different strategies. Some kids used all of the Lego pieces that were in the tray, while others used as few pieces as possible. Either way, we had students who revisited our booth and couldn’t stay away! Legos have quite the draw and we loved seeing all of the unique creations. Sadly, these were the only two ducks that I captured on camera. I’m already looking forward to seeing what everyone makes at next year’s summer camp expo.

A picture of a lego duck made out of legos.

This lego duck was made by another summer camp expo participant.

 

Brick Chronicles – EV3 Conveyor Belt

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!

A picture of a Lego Mindstorms conveyor belt

A conveyor belt, made by R, age 10.

EV3 Conveyor Belt

A few weeks ago, my oldest son had some uninterrupted time. No “school work,” plenty of free time and a brother who had a huge stack of Nate the Great books to keep him occupied. He used the EV3 brick to flush out his idea for a moving machine. He also used the ipad app (instead of the computer-based Lego software) to program his contraption.  I came home to a Mindstorms conveyor belt. Of course, I put it on the piano bench, took it outside to capture the fading light and ask him to demonstrate it for the camera. Check out the video:

I’m lucky that I recorded this video. If I had waited a week longer, I wouldn’t have been able to capture it in action. As with most of the Legos® in our house, this EV3 conveyor belt has now been transformed into something else. Just like it should be…no ‘kragle’ here!

 

Brick Chronicles :: Lego Railroad Handcart

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!

Picture of a mini lego railroad handcart, made of legos

Made by C, age 6

Lego Railroad Handcart

This past week, the boys were inspired by trains and there was much making and recreating with Legos®. My youngest son excitedly came running into my room saying, “look what I made, Mom!”

Lots of fun and lots of creativity happening with these Legos®. Best toy ever.

A picture of a mini railroad handcart made from legos

Although it doesn’t function completely on its own, the concept is there. Not bad for a six-year-old.

Making – K’nex Bridges

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!

A picture of a mini bridge made from K'nex pieces

Made by C, age 6.

K’nex Bridges

It’s not made from Lego bricks, but it is building and constructing nonetheless. This particular type of building is a reflection on his continual interest in bridges. One evening while my youngest had me all to himself, he brought out the K’nex box and suggested we have a bridge building contest. He was especially proud of his homemade double bascule bridge.

A picture of a double bascule bridge made from K'nex pieces

He was testing and changing his design.

A picture of a 2-panel K'nex bridge

My attempt at making a stable, elevated bridge.

A picture of a stabilized double-bascule bridge made from K'nex pieces

He stabilized the bridge and now can easily lift up the roadway.

The Brick Chronicles – Lego Vaccine

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!

A picture of a lego vaccine - a "needle" made from legos

Made by R, age 10.

My kids call this their “Lego shot.” I think that’s much nicer than calling it their Lego hypodermic needle. Don’t you think? Of course, they also run around chasing each other trying to give one other a shot. Hopefully, that makes the real vaccines seem less scary. At least that’s theory I’m going with.

I know. I know. It is an odd thing for me to feature, but it does have some ingenious engineering. When you press down on the “trigger” the tip actually breaks off. You can reattach it, of course, but you have to find it first. Thus, giving your brother some time to get away…

A picture of a lego vaccine

No animals (or people) were hurt in the making of this toy. 🙂

 

The Brick Chronicles :: Lego Addition Problems

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!

Picture of lego addition problem 10=8+2

Lego addition problem made by C, age 6.

A few mornings ago, I was working with A to reinforce multiplication facts and was introducing the concept of area, while using graph paper and legos. We had the legos out and that drew the attention of the other two boys. Since C is only six, he gets a pass when it comes to a lot of formal learning…especially now that he is reading chapter books. I tend to let him have a lot more leeway with the type of work that he does. So, when he started playing with the legos, I told him that he had to do something with math. Otherwise, he had free reign. I was envisioning him adding the dots to make numbers, but then he busted out the above addition problem.

“It’s backwards,” my husband whispers to me. Yes and no. He is actually demonstrating a great way of re-writing the problem…something many elementary teachers will recognize.  Kids need to become comfortable with the quantities and learn to play with the numbers and numerals – not just memorize the way it’s set up in their math book. He placed the equal sign on the left, but the problem was correct : 8 + 2 = 10.

Now, I just need to figure out how to make ALL math lessons this intuitive and self-directed. I’m working on it.

And, the answer makes 10.

And, the answer makes 10.