To an outsider, the scene may look chaotic. Kids gathering around bins of colorful Legos, choosing the pieces they need and excitedly adding to their creations. They move from one table to the next, searching for the perfect piece. Several children play with the Lego boat, discussing which pieces to add and where to fill their creative vision. Two girls work together to build a large house, attaching base plates to make an even larger one. Around the room, participants are discussing, sharing resources, lending ideas, and getting to know one another.
When I host the Lego free play program at the library, I am often amazed to see kids who may have met one another just a few minutes prior sharing ideas and problem solving issues that arise over the construction of a project. These cooperative skills will serve kids beyond the program room at the library, in school, at home, and eventually in their careers. Similarly, parents sit down and strike up a conversation as their kids play, furthering our community building.
There is a universal appeal to Legos, and one of my favorite things about them as a toy is that there is an unlimited play value. Legos encourage kids to use their imaginations, to improvise, to share, and to cooperate. They are also excellent for practicing fine motor skills. While amassing a large collection of Legos may be cost-prohibitive for some families, the library’s collection is available to all participants and is one example of the value public libraries provide to their communities.
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