How many different ways are there to play with bricks? A lot! Here are some fun ideas to elevate LEGO from normal playtime.
Building challenges make playing with LEGO different and fun. To make these feel even more special, reveal each challenge as a surprise ("the challenge of the day is...") and post the details on a bulletin board or wall. A nod to Good Play Guide for the inspiration for many of these.
Challenge: "The Name Game"
Using a large green platform or other background of your choice, build your name out of LEGO. Add embellishments or special design features. Be creative!
On a large platform, build a maze out of LEGO. There should be a starting point and an ending point. When you are finished, place a marble in your maze and tilt the platform back and forth to send the marble through the course. Can you solve each other's mazes?
Challenge: "Build a LEGO City"
Together or alone, build an entire city. Think about buildings and locations a city might have. Pick FOUR locations and build each on its individual platform. When you are done with each building, add it to the city. Suggestions: An apartment building, a jail, a school, a police station, a playground, a theater, a dance studio, a courtroom, a library, a museum, a swimming pool, a highway, a bridge. Think of your own!
Challenge: "Butterfly Beauty"
On a large platform, build a butterfly with two symmetrical wings. You can use pieces of any color or shape, but the wings must perfectly mirror each other. Don’t forget the antennae!
Challenge: "Good versus Evil"
Build a scene that shows a battle of good vs. evil. Be creative in your interpretation. You have 40 minutes to build. Good luck! (Fun addition - throw in a twist at the 20 and 30 minute mark such as "Add an animal to your scene" or "Incorporate into your scene something with wheels")
Make a Connection
To shake things up, do one or more of these challenges over Zoom or FaceTime with family or friends. We challenged our cousins across the country to the "Good versus Evil" battle and positioned our devices so we could watch each other build. It was a lot of fun and a unique way for us to connect.
DIY LEGO Racetrack
Part construction challenge, part painting activity, pure LEGO fun - this project is inspired by the Build & Test area at Legoland and will keep your kids racing for hours.
For this project you will need:
-large piece of plywood
-smaller pieces of wood for the sides, lane dividers, legs and "start"
board (the board that supports the cars at the top of the ramp)
-screws and power drill
-chop saw (if cutting the wood yourself)
-hinges for the legs
-paint (we used acrylic)
-assortment of LEGO wheels and car parts
We built this one afternoon from scraps of old wood we found in our garage. We improvised based on what we had, but Tonya Staab has a simplified version with easy to follow steps that you can adapt as needed.
Tip and Reflections:
-This can be as simple or complicated as you want. We chose to attach wooden rails with a power drill for the lane dividers. You could also hot glue dowels from the craft store. If you don't have any plywood, substitute a large piece of foam core.
-We added hinges to the legs so we could fold it up and store it more easily.
-If you are low on car building parts, LEGO sells sets like this one you can mix in with your own supply of bricks.
Stop Motion Animation
A stop motion animation film out of LEGO is a great project any time of year, and a fun way to showcase different creations built during LEGO challenges.
We have enjoying learning about stop motion at some of our favorite
museums but if you are new to the filmmaking technique, the general
idea is to move objects - in this case LEGO - in small increments and
take a photograph between each movement. When the photographs
are played back in order, you get the illusion of motion.
You will need an iPad and a stop motion app. There are many on the
market. We used the Life Lapse Stop Motion Maker and found it
easy to use. We chose not to do so, but the app gives you an upgrade
option to add sound effects and music.
Brainstorm ideas for a story and decide which LEGO characters and pieces you want to feature in the film. We settled on a classic chase narrative (involving Mulan, a robber and a magic wand) which made it easy to incorporate multiple "locations" in our film.
If have real tech skills, you can rig an iPad or computer camera on a tripod. We opted to have have an adult hold the iPad and record the photos while the kids were responsible for moving the LEGOs in between shots. Make sure to to clear all hands out of the frame before taking the photos.
Your children may prefer to work independently and in that case, consider having them make their own stop motion films on individual devices rather than making this a group project. Share your film with family and friends!