Our respresentative from LEGO® came to S&S for a workshop to feature the new LEGO® STEAM Park set. In this workshop, our team learned concepts related to STEAM and Makerspace, and the importance of incorporating these activities into your classroom or afterschool program.
LEGO is educational, STEAM focused, and stimulates different areas of children’s minds when they play with these classic manipulatives. Learn several fun, interactive and engaging activities you can use with this new set, and discover how to incorporate LEGO in a Makerspace.
Introducing LEGO® Education
The mission of LEGO Education is to stimulate children’s curiosity to explore together and learn through play. For the activities in the workshop, we focused on how play is important to preschool age kids from 3 to 5 years old. Playful experiences in the early years allows you to aquire the critical skills for learning throughout your lifetime.
“Play has a lot to do with the way that preschoolers learn. They use their brains in different ways, and our goal is to support them in that play experience through the LEGO education solutions” – Daniella Bonazzoli, Sr. Partnership Manager at LEGO
|5 Characteristics of Playful Experiences:
||Early indicators include:
Ice Breaker Activity
Building a Duck
This first hands-on activity is a perfect ice breaker for learning through play using just a few LEGO bricks. Our team is instructed to build a duck using the 6 bricks they were provided with. The challenge is to use all of the bricks and build the duck in 1 minute. There are no instructions – everyone must use their memory and imagination.
After the time was up, everyone looked around the room and noticed that no two ducks were the same. This starts a great discussion on how each person has their own imagination. Some may decide to use one of the orange pieces as the feet instead of the bill, or as a tail. The best part is, there is no wrong answer, so it is a very inclusive activity.
NOTE: For this activity, you can choose any small amount of LEGO pieces and have your group make something simple, like a tree, duck, or any other common item/animal. (These pieces do not come in the STEAM Park pack.)
Play is Learning
Without realizing it, the activity allows you to use 24 different skills in your brain, when building with only 6 bricks. Your brain is subconsiously activating skills including mental imagery, spatial abilities, fine motor skills, cognitive flexibility, and kinesthetic awareness.
This leads to some great points about how building blocks like LEGO can improve the following skills:
- Physical Abilities – kids are always getting up and moving when they are playing. Balance, movement, spatial understanding
- Cognitive – problem solving, flexible thinking, building effective strategies, keeping information in mind, following rules
- Emotional – self belief, confidence, self control, reflection, perserverence, understanding, experimenting and regulating emotions
- Creative – coming up with new ideas, imagining things, using representations, transforming existing ideas into new ideas, making associations, using symbols
- Social abilities – collaborating, communication, understanding perspectives, negotiating rules, handling conflicts, building empathy.
LEGO STEAM Park Set
The new LEGO® STEAM Park set was launched in November. In the video below, you will see how this set can help kids with role play, problem solving, probability, cause and effect, and making predictions. It helps to build and foster curious minds, confident storytellers, social skills, creativity, problem solvers, and imagination.
STEAM Park is designed to help teachers develop children’s science, technology, engineering, art, and math skills (STEAM). But it’s more than just an acronym. STEAM is a philosophy and a way of thinking that helps children to integerate knowledge across disciplines, encouraging them to think in a connected and holistic way. It helps children to explore, observe, ask questions, predict, and integrate their learning, and compliments established apporoaches to early childhood education.
The set allows children to experiment, test ideas, and answer questions. Without knowing it, kids are learing and building their vocabulary. This pack is also the perfect example of dramatic play. Kids can imagine they are going to the fair, going on the rides and enjoying themselves. Below are some key learning values that are learned using this set.
This is a great video to show before the next two activities:
Key Learning Values:
- Cause and effect relationships
- Making predictions and observations
- Problem solving
- Develop imagination
- Creating representations
- Role play and collaboration
Activities with Lego STEAM Park Set
Activity #1 – Build a Ride That Moves
For this activity, you will use a small, pre-sorted selection of Lego pieces from the STEAM Park set to build a ride that moves. Each individual is encouraged to first think about visiting theme parks as a child, what rides they enjoyed, and how it made them feel. This activity must be completed within 3 minutes. This time, you can choose whether to use some or all of the bricks.
When the time is up, everyone shared a few details about their ride. Each one was different and unique. Encourage each participant to tell the group about their ride and why they chose the design.
Activity #2: Collaborate to Build a Ride at the Theme Park
This next activity is a bit more challenging and requires teamwork. Have the group split up into teams of 3 or 4. The goal is to build a ride that moves by combining all of their pieces from the first activity. They have 10 minutes to complete the challenge.
Teamwork is very important for this activity. There will be a lot of trial and error, collaboration, and planning. Many of the teams also elected a leader to streamline the building process.
To make the activity even more interesting and add a Makerspace element, each team can use the craft materials on the table, including pencils, straws, chenile stems, cups, feathers, elastics, and pom poms.
At the end of 10 minutes, have each group share information about their theme park ride. Also discuss some of the key points that they learned from the presentation, like what skills they learned and how STEAM was evident in the process.
- Does your ride have a name?
- How does your ride work?
- What are some of the things you did together as a group when building the ride?
- What did you discover when working together?
Below are some examples of theme park rides made by our team here at S&S Worldwide!
Group #1: Tea Cups – This group specified that they started by building a base, then added multiple gears. An important step was to make sure the gears connected and moved together. Then they created a centerpiece and built up from there, and added some foam pieces at the top to make it look visual appealing.
Group #2 also created tea cups using actual plastic cups rom the Makerspace supplies, and added elastic bands for the seatbelts. It was great to see how theirs was so unique compared to the other group.
Group #3: Windpower – For this ride, the gears connect and rotate on multiple levels. The idea is that the ride runs on wind power – very energy efficient! They elected a team leader, and shared how they tested different ideas until they were happy with the final design.
Group #4: Turbo Jump Rope Flume – This is a water ride with two motors in the back. This group got creative and gave the riders jump ropes made out of pipe cleaners. Such a fun use of the makerspace materials!
This activity involved a lot of communication, collaboration, and problem solving. The feedback from the teams was that it was a challenge to make sure the parts worked together. It was important to ask each other, “Does this work? If not, let’s try this.” They were more aware that they were using parts of their brain discussed in the presentation, and building social skills and vocabulary.
Experience STEAM Park in Your Program
Want to try all of these activities at your workshops and in your program with students? Check out the LEGO® STEAM Park set to see all of the elements included in this 295 piece set. This pack can compliment with Duplo people set, park with a farm, train sets, etc. different lego packs. View all LEGO products here.
FREE Teacher Resources
LEGO® Education also provides teacher guides with activities right out of the box. This is a great option for when you are short on time. Find the free downloads here.
- Access all of the early learning teacher guides here. For the LEGO® STEAM Park, they have both the STEAM Park and Maker teacher guides that are a great resource for the STEAM Park set.
- Here are some additional activities and inspiration that can be resourceful for educators.
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