Plastic bricks can be used in a variety of ways as a teaching aid. Many times they come in handy as spur-of-the-moment math manipulatives. They are also useful for other subjects including history, social studies, science, art, even language and literature. This page lists over 60 examples of early childhood educational activities that utilize interlocking plastic bricks. Remember, kids learn best while having fun! Encourage your children to enjoy some free play with bricks between lessons, too.
Have your child sort a bunch of bricks by color. Can he or she name all of the colors? Point out the three primary colors (red, yellow, blue).
Black and White Sort
Separate all of the black and white bricks from the colored bricks. Have your child put all of the white bricks into one pile and the black bricks into another pile.
Ask children to sort bricks according to small, medium, and large. (Works great if you have an assortment of LEGO, DUPLO, and MEGA Baby blocks.)
Demonstrate spatial relationships using a small and a large block (e.g., small block in front, small block on top, small block beside, etc.) Ask your child to describe the placement of the blocks as well.
Have children classify bricks by placing red ones in a box, blue on the box lid, yellow under the box and green beside the box.
Use plastic bricks to review the concepts of above and below, over and under.
Have your child make a stack of three bricks with a blue brick at the bottom, a green brick in the middle, and a red brick on top. Repeat with other combinations; i.e. yellow on the bottom, red in the middle, and blue on top; or white on the bottom, black in the middle, and another white on top.
Have your child make a tower of three bricks. Ask them which one is on top, which one is on the bottom, and which one is in the middle. Repeat by asking in a different order.
Place three different minifigures in a row, as if they are standing in line. (Do you have a lemonade stand, bank teller, or ticket window at which they can be waiting?) For this example we will use a fireman, a policeman, and a mailman. Ask your child which figure comes before the policeman, which figure comes after the policeman, and which figure is between the fireman and the mailman. Switch them around and repeat the questions.
Introduce the concept of first, second, and third. The first is the thing at the beginning. The second is the thing after the first. The third is the thing that comes after the second thing. Place three different minifigures in a row, as if they are standing in line. Ask your child which figure comes first, which figure comes second, and which figure comes third. Switch them around and repeat the questions.
First and Last
Add a few more minfigures to the above lineup. Now ask your child which minifig is first in line and which one is last in line?
Left and Right
Line up three bricks next to each other. For this example we will use a red brick, a yellow brick, and a blue brick. (The yellow brick is in the middle.) Ask your child which brick is on the left side of the yellow brick, and which brick is on the right side of the yellow brick. Switch them around and repeat the questions.
Make a line of DUPLO animals as if they are going onto Noah’s Ark. Ask your child: Which animal is before the hippo? After the hippo? Between the giraffe and the monkey? Etc.
Squares and Rectangles
Show your child the difference between a square plastic brick and a rectangular plastic brick. The square has four equal sides. The rectangle has two sides that are longer than the other two sides. You can stand it upright so that it is a tall rectangle or lay it down so that it is a short, wide rectangle.
Fractions: Halves and Quarters
Stack four bricks together. Make sure they are all the same color so it looks like one whole piece. Show your child how you can break the bricks in half, making two equal parts of the whole. Then show how you can break each of those halves in half again, explaining how four quarters make a whole. Put them all back together again to make one whole piece.
Fractions: Thirds and Sixths
Stack six bricks together. Make sure they are all the same color so it looks like one whole piece. Divide the stack into three equal parts. Talk about how one of those parts is one of three, so it is called one third. Divide each of the thirds in half. Now we have six smaller pieces. They all fit back together to make one whole piece.
Get 10 bricks (preferably of equal size, shape and color). Have your child sort them into piles of one.
Get 10 bricks (preferably of equal size, shape and color). Have your child sort them into piles of two.
Get 18 bricks (preferably of equal size, shape and color). Have your child sort them into piles of three.
Get 20 bricks (preferably of equal size, shape and color). Have your child sort them into piles of four.
Get 20 bricks (preferably of equal size, shape and color). Have your child sort them into piles of five.
Get 24 bricks (preferably of equal size, shape and color). Have your child sort them into piles of six.
Get 28 bricks (preferably of equal size, shape and color). Have your child sort them into piles of seven.
Get 32 bricks (preferably of equal size, shape and color). Have your child sort them into piles of eight.
Get 18 bricks (preferably of equal size, shape and color). Have your child sort them into piles of nine.
Get 20 bricks (preferably of equal size, shape and color). Have your child sort them into piles of ten.
Review numbers 1-10 and build brick stacks of corresponding numbers; one brick in a stack, two bricks in a stack, three bricks in a stack, four bricks in a stack, and so on. Line up the stacks to show how they get progressively taller.
Make a grid of twenty squares (each square the size of a 2x4 brick). Ask the children to place graduating sets of square bricks on the grid. (One brick on line 1, two bricks on line 2, three bricks on line 3, etc.)
Whatever number your child is learning at the moment, have him or her use that number of bricks to make either a flat design or a 3-D sculpture. (This works best with larger numbers.)
Many and Few
Make a pile of many bricks and a pile of few bricks. Ask your child to tell you which of the two piles contains many bricks and which pile has only a few bricks in it.
More or Less
Make two rows of bricks, one with more bricks in it and the other with less. Ask your child to tell you which of the two rows contains more bricks and which row has less bricks. Repeat with different numbers of bricks in the rows.
More or Less
Start by placing four bricks on the table. Have your child close his eyes. You take one brick away. Have your child open his eyes. Are there more or less bricks on the table? Repeat the question as you randomly take away and add bricks.
Start by placing four bricks on the table. (These should be various colors, shapes, and sizes.) Have your child close his eyes. Take one brick away and replace it with another one. Have your child open his eyes. What looks different? Keep increasing the number of bricks used to make it progressively more challenging.
Which One Doesn’t Belong?
Get three bricks that look exactly the same. Also get one brick that is a different color, shape, or size. Place these together on the table. Ask your child which brick doesn’t belong with the others.
Different and Equal
Explain that equal means to have the same amount as something else. Make two piles of bricks – one pile containing more bricks, the other pile with less. Ask your child if the piles are different or equal. Repeat the question, this time having made both piles equal. Keep repeating with different numbers of bricks, some piles being different and some being equal. (For large differences, your child may be able to tell just by looking; for closer quantities, he or she will have to count the bricks in each pile to see if it’s the same number or not.)
Explain that equal means to have the same amount as something else. Make two rows of bricks, with a different number of bricks in each row. Ask your child to either add bricks to one row or remove bricks from the other row so that both rows will be made equal.
Have your child make two piles of bricks to show more and less; another two piles to show equal.
Longer and Shorter
Make two rows of bricks with varying lengths. Ask your child to tell you which row is shorter and which one is longer.
Have your child sort bricks into the following categories: red, green, blue, yellow, white, black, square, rectangle, minifigures, headgear, etc.
Have your child build a stack of bricks following a sequence that you give them such as “Put a red brick on the bottom, a yellow brick in the middle, and a blue brick on top.” Add more bricks in the sequence to make it progressively more challenging.
Match the Shape
Help your child trace around several bricks of different shapes, then let your child fit the actual bricks into the corresponding outlines.
Have your child draw and color a close-up picture of a single brick, an arrangement of bricks, a minifigure, or some other piece. (Look at it like a modern still art painting.)
Ask children to “build” a painting with red, yellow, blue, white and black bricks. (Works well with a study of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, and/or a study of cubism.)
Pink and Blue
Talk about how Pablo Picasso’s painting style changed during his life. When he was happy, he used a lot of pink (rose period). When he was sad, he used a lot of blue (blue period). Ask the children to build a creation using blue bricks only. If you have any pink bricks, ask the children to build a creation using pink bricks only. How do different colored bricks make you feel?
Create several patterns with colored plastic bricks and ask the children to extend the patterns, copy the patterns, or create their own pattern.
Black and White Patterns
Create several patterns with black and white bricks only. Encourage the children to create similar patterns.
Place a bunch of minifigures in a row. Have your child describe the first, second, third, etc.
Line up four bricks in a row, three of which are alike and one which is a different color or shape. Ask your child which one is different – the first, second, third, or fourth?
Scales and Weights
Let your children weigh and balance plastic bricks using a kitchen scale, postal scale, or balance.
Provide two pails, blocks, a rope and pulley. Set up a pulley system and let the children practice using it to pick up and pull heavy loads (i.e., plastic bricks in a plastic bucket). Then challenge them to design a balance scale using both pails.
Have the children build walls or towers of plastic bricks, then toss beanbags to knock them down. Who can build the strongest structure?
Have the children pretend to be architects or urban planners designing and building a house, town, or city.
Have the children build a small town and walk through it pretending to be giants.
Have the children build big, bigger, and biggest structures.
Help your children to build towers as tall as they are. Then challenge the children to build a skyscraper taller than they are. See how tall they can build a tower before it falls. DUPLO blocks work best for this.
Have each of your children put together a minifigure that looks like them, or what they would want to look like if they were a minifigure. They may have to mix-and-match heads, torsos, legs, hair, and hats from different minifigures to do this. Then they can act out situations with their mini-siblings!
Provide pictures of several different types of buildings. (i.e., Empire State Building, Cape Cod cottage, Victorian mansion, Medieval castle, adobe house, etc.) Encourage children to build similar structures out of plastic bricks.
Encourage children to make a highway setup including a bridge, truck, train, car, bus, boat, ship, etc.
Have children illustrate scenes from books using plastic bricks. (The Three Little Pigs; Jack and the Beanstalk; Charlotte’s Web; The Chronicles of Narnia; etc.)
As part of your holiday celebrations, encourage children to build creations using the colors associated with that holiday. For Christmas, ask the children to make something from red and green bricks. For Saint Patrick’s Day, ask the children to build an all-green creation. For patriotic holidays, ask them to make something that’s red, white, and blue.
Construct a maze out of bricks for your minifigs to walk through.
Try making a board game using bricks and/or minifigs as game pieces.
"My son loves Lego's and you can buy Lego kits to build a big pirate ship or a space station. They're pretty expensive, so I wasn't going to just go buy it for him as a toy. But I did buy it to use as an incentive. The kit had over 300 pieces, so I just tied a condition to it that he could put the first ten pieces together when he got home, but after that, every time he took the initiative to do the right thing without having to be reminded, then he could put the next ten pieces together. And, you know, instead of walking over his sock, he would pick it up and put it in the hamper and go put ten pieces together. And instead of just grabbing the last piece of a cookie or a cake, he'd ask his sisters if they wanted it first. Of course, it was just to get the Lego pieces, but at the end of the month he had built not only a great pirate ship, but he'd built a really good character trait as well." ~Lisa Whelchel, homeschool mom and author of Creative Correction
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