Monday, March 12, 2012

You May Think It's Weird But...

Sometimes teachers wonder why I have Lego and Duplo in my classroom.

Others roll their eyes when they spot the Playdough. Occasionally I get odd looks because I have a 'Tinker Table'.

You may already be thinking that's weird...but...

According to all of the 'reports' and stats out these days, our kids are spending so much screen time that they have forgotten how to function with unstructured play. Most of them go home and sit in front of a screen - Nintendo, PSP, X-Box, Wii, iPads/iPods, laptops/desktops, TV. They can interface but not interact. They are experts at social networking but poor at socialising.

So why do I have Lego, Duplo, screwdrivers, magnifying glasses, playdough and so on in my room?

We are an eLearning class. We have every bell and whistle available to mankind in this day and age. We have limitless access to all the web has to offer. But we need to know how to create PHYSICALLY not just on a screen. We need more than just augmented learning and gaming/coding - our kids need to create something from nothing in a tangible and tactile manner. They need to make and break. They need to imagine, create, test and evaluate - discussing and negotiating along the way. Our kids can do all of these things on a computer but it is essential that they can do them in real life too.

So, with Lego or Duplo, they sit and play before school. I teach 7-9 year olds and they build farms and castles, fairylands and fairgrounds. They make animals and towers, guns and weapons, trains, planes and automobiles. As for the playdough, they make their names, they create a house or building, cut shapes, roll 'food', copy characters and more. The tinker table is filled with old phones and radios, screwdrivers and parts, all ready for the disassembly process that helps to understand how things work. The microscope (actually it's a digital Dino-scope!) is on our geologists' table - the boys have become fascinated by the different types of rocks and gems, loving every moment before school of being able to examine closely and compare and contrast the features of each.

If we desire for our children to be whole and rounded lifelong learners, then we must create every opportunity for them to explore and discuss the world around them.

I think that may explain why I have, have ALWAYS had, and always WILL have these essential tools with me. Lego, Duplo, Playdough, tinkering bits, tools and stuff to examine!


  1. You know what even my 'big kids' year 7/8 love having stuff to play with in my class.

    Good on you for having the tools available!


  2. I'm teaching Prep/1s (5-7 year olds) and I still have to explain why my grade 1s have access to Lego and Duplo and play dough, and other developmental play activities. I love hearing that other teachers, of older students, still include those tools in the classroom!

    It sounds like your kids have lots of fun with their tinkering tools!


  3. Great to hear - of course in a new entrant class those things go without saying. We recently had a sandpit and playhouse built in the junior play area and guess who were the first kids there.... in fact making no room for the new entrants - yes all the senior kids. We also have a wood work bench (work in progress) and are hoping for a water wall. So much fun!!! (: - ooooh and a bit of learning too!

  4. Exactly. I run a "lunchtime room" at an intermediate school and lego and bionicles are the number one favourites.Let kids be kids I say!!