Lego is said to be one of the best open ended toys for kids – it nurtures creativity, it promotes making/ building among children, it offers hours of play and stories. Now that I have an almost six year old and a two year old, I can certainly vouch for all of these.
We introduced Lego to my elder son when he was 2 – I got him the simple house, garden set meant for 1.5 to 3 year olds, much to my surprise he showed no interest in it. Even after 6 months it was his least played with toy, I didn’t understand it, why was he not playing with his legos? Why did making something fun not seem interesting to my baby?
By the time he was 3 he showed a clear preference for vehicles, especially construction vehicles and emergency vehicles, around this time I saw the ‘My first trucks’ lego set on Amazon and got it for him. We’ve not looked back since. The house is slowly filling up with legos – big, small, tiny they are all there. The husband and I are constantly stepping on them and screaming aloud but they are there and we’ve made peace with it. Given that the older one took to lego well and we had 5/6 sets of duplo already around the little was exposed to it much earlier, by 10 months he was already trying to fix the blocks or eat them up.
To help him discover legos while his brother built with them we found new ways we could use legos around the baby. Here are the top 5 things we did with our legos so S loved playing with them even as a 1 year old.
Colour sorting – Lego blocks come in all sorts of colours – light blue, dark blue, pink, brown etc. no matter which sets you have you will find similar and different colours. I have used the houses to make colour sort containers so S can fill them with similar coloured legos. This meant he could play with it without having to fit them. It was an age appropriate skill and he enjoyed doing it
Matching – Most lego sets have similar patterns, objects, shapes help your child identify matching patterns or objects. I have had S make sandwiches for me with bread and cheese lego blocks long before we introduced kitchen sets. He knew them as milk cans long before he actually made the supermarket. He used the watering can in his bath even before I showed him the garden legos. Once he was familiar with the patterns – rainbows, stars etc and started building with them soon.
Stamps – Legos make great stamps on playdough or with paint. Its easy for little hands to hold and creates beautiful patterns. We have always used legos to make patterns on different materials.
Straight lego towers – Instead of trying to make the sets just let your toddler make straight lego towers with as many blocks as they can. These help them practice actually seating the legos right and they get super excited when the tower goes above their head. It’s great for fine motor skill practice as well.
Pretend play – Lego people and animals make great additions for pretend play and sensory play trays. They can be easily cleaned up and big enough for little hands to hold and move around. V & S often make alphabets and numbers with the smaller pieces as well.
Lego is probably the only plastic toy we still actively buy for the kids because although it doesn’t provide the sensory experience our wooden toys do, the pieces offer tools for really imaginative creating and building.
If you want to start with legos, Duplos are best till your child is about 4 years old, you can then move to lego juniors till about 7 years of age. V is comfortable with most sets now and is constantly building. S at 2 is again smitten with the vehicles set but he can make me a delicious icecream with the sets he has which doesn’t actually have an ice cream kit, then again it’s the imagination that counts doesn’t it? If your toddler says its an ice cream, you better believe it and enjoy it.
Happy building and making with legos!