For our latest video, I surprised my son with a Bricklink order box to open. (For those who don’t know, Bricklink is a very useful site where you can buy just about any kind of new or used Lego products from people who have Lego stuff to sell.) I hope kids will have a fun time watching him go through this “Bricklink haul” and building a set with his favorite pieces. But I also wanted to use it as an example for us adult-types of how inspiring a box of unusual, interesting Lego bricks can be when a kid sits down to build.
This post contains links to Amazon.com. If you click on one, we will receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you — on anything you buy at Amazon for a certain length of time afterwards. Read our disclosure policy for more details.
Watch the video — it’s a fun one! — and then I’ll tell you a bit more about how we do this at our house.
My son loves opening “new” toy packages — I put the “new” in quotes because the toys themselves don’t have to be new! He often gets out his favorite toys, finds an empty box or two, and has me help him make “sets” to open up, play with, and sometimes review for a video (usually a pretend one, but sometimes I do go get the camera). One of the most fun boxes to fill for him is his Lego advent calendar from last year. I was amazed at how many building techniques he picked up from putting together a little mini Lego build every day for a month, especially considering he had just turned four at the time.
After Christmas, I anticipated him being sad that the calendar was over, but he immediately had a solution — Mama could fill it all over again for him! I did so happily. I tried to use a similar assortment of types of functional bricks and small plates to what had been in the calendar originally, but without any attempt to put the right parts in to build any of the original models.
And this is where I first noticed the “interesting bricks” effect on his building. He would make the most interesting little mini ships and droids out of whatever I put in the box! It was a great way for him to practice and build on the skills he’d gained from the original calendar, and I tried to include two or four each of some of the bricks in each section of the calendar so that he could practice his newfound ability to build symmetrical ships.
Since then, we’ve found other ways to get that interesting bricks effect. One of my favorites is to bring home a container of bricks from the Pick-a-Brick wall at the Lego store. Usually, we end up with a large quantity of each of a few different interesting kinds of bricks. For the first few days after we get them, I try to keep them separate from the rest of our Lego collection, which leads to us building with only those bricks. The limited variety combined with the relatively large quantity of each type of brick leads to some really creative building ideas!
I should mention that when I say “interesting” bricks or pieces, I mean anything that is functional (hinges, ball-and-socket joints, bricks with studs on the sides instead of just the top, ropes with studs and hand holds, etc.), or evocative of something to build (wings, control panels, and levers evoke the idea of a spaceship in my son’s mind, which leads him to use the non-spaceship-ish parts I’ve included in new ways), beautiful (translucent pieces, smooth colorful tiles), or just plain unusual.
I also make the “sets” I mentioned my son requesting above with this interesting thing in mind. To mimic a new Lego set, I put an interesting combination of Lego bricks into a few zip-top baggies (we save them with his Lego stuff to use over and over) and put them in a box with the instruction booklet from a random Lego set. (He likes to pretend to follow an instruction booklet with these pretend sets, even though he’s building something from his imagination.) This makes for a great quiet time activity, because he’s usually enthralled for as long as it takes to build the “set”!
I always love to see what he will build from these interesting assortments of bricks, like “Han Solo’s fix fighter” from the video. (The “fix” part refers to the blue tile with the wrench on the right…I think he flies around fixing things and getting into space battles.)
As a writer, I’ve always felt that putting limitations on a creative project gives your imagination more to work with, so it’s fun to watch my son enjoying that same creative energy boost.
SIGN UP FOR MORE EPIC FUN!
I hope you enjoyed our Lego Surprise Box video! After a year and a half of blogging about train play at Play Trains!, we’re just getting started here at Epic Fun for Kids. I hope you’ll follow along with us from the beginning by signing up for our weekly emails. We’ll share our new posts and videos for the week and any other epic kid ideas we have to show you. You can also follow us on Pinterest, Facebook, and Google+ – and don’t forget to subscribe to our new YouTube channel!
Skye @ Planet Jinxatron says
I loved finding this post because this is basically what we did with our kid’s stocking this year. I went to our local used toy shop and picked out various interesting Legos. I thought he’d immediately dump them into the big pile but instead he kept them separate for quite a while and built REALLY interesting stuff with them. We had done the Lego wall canister before with similar effect, but it was really intensified with the stocking because I was able to get a wider variety of shapes.
Jessica Petersen says
That’s so fun! I love hearing that he kept them separate for a long time, too.
Now that I think of it, that’s sort of what we did with my son’s stocking, too. Although partially it was a way of sneaking some non-Star Wars Lego into his Christmas presents, because he was adamant that he only wanted Star Wars at the time, but I wanted to get some basic bricks for him, and then some fun stuff from the Pick-a-Brick at the Lego website.