Kids love Lego! Last week we looked at toys for toddlers but at the Talking Matters Christmas Party Santa told me that Lego was the thing most bigger kids asked for. 400 billion bricks have been made since 1958 and there are 62 bricks for every person in the world. Currently 36 billion bricks are made each year or 1140 bricks per second. That's a lot of Lego, so what can we do with it all?
Occupational therapists will tell you that Lego is great to develop these skills:
1. Fine motor skills. Playing with Lego will help develop:
- fine motor skills
- hand and finger strength
- bilateral hand movements (using two hands together)
2. Visual perceptual skills. Lego is also great for developing these skills too:
- visual scanning
- visual figure ground perception (finding something against a complex background)
- eye hand coordination
- motor planning
All these skills are important for the development of many important skills including handwriting.
These ideas about how Lego can be used to develop speech and language skills were developed by Michelle Simpson, speech pathology student (now qualified speech pathologist) while on placement at Talking Matters:
Lego can be used to help develop:
3. Knowledge of colours. For example using blue, green, red and yellow blocks.
- Begin with modelling: Sorting your blocks by colour. Tell your child the names of the colours as you sort.
- Next practice understanding: Ask your child to listen and find the colour blocks you say "find all the red blocks"
- Lastly practice naming: Ask your child to name the colours "What colour is this?"
4. Knowledge of concepts. For example big/small, before/after, and closest/furthest. Work through the steps of modelling, understanding then naming as above. For tips on what concepts to teach, when and how click here.
5. Develop the ability to follow instructions. Ask your child to follow instructions using the blocks. Start simple and build up. For example, “put a yellow block on and then a red block on the board”. For ideas on where to start and how to move your child along in their listening skills see this post on information carrying words.
6. Practicing speech sounds. When doing your speech homework, practice sounds and/or words and your child can receive a Lego piece for each attempt. For more ideas on making speech practice fun click here.
7. Talking in longer sentences. If your child is working on using three word sentences each time they want a piece of Lego, ask them to say or copy three words such as ‘blue block please’. When they move on add an extra word 'big, blue block please’. For more tips on building sentences click here.
8. Turn taking and sharing skills. Taking it in turns to add a Lego piece to create something together. This post has more ideas about helping young children learn to take turns.
9. Auditory memory skills. You can practice giving your child instructions to listen and follow. For example, if the child is asked ‘pick up the red, blue, green and yellow block’, there is a focus on remembering the order in order to follow the instruction. Start easy and gradually make the instructions longer or add some concept words. For more ideas on developing auditory memory click here.
10. Social skills. At Talking Matters some of our therapists have been using Lego to develop social skills for kids on the autism spectrum. The children have been practicing:
- turn taking
- responding to requests
- giving instructions
- using descriptive language
- developing theory of mind
- being patient and accepting of others
All this can be targeted with two ( or more) kids, a box of Lego and some simple instructions. One child holds the instructions and tells the other what blocks to find and how to put them together. Once the building is done, they can swap roles. For more on developing social skills click here.
Feeling inspired but need some simple Lego patterns to get your kids started? Pop over to our Lego Pinterest page for loads of simple Lego patterns and ideas, and even some special Christmas ones.
Talking Matters provides speech pathology and occupational therapy for children of all ages. If you would like to work with our great team in our bright, child-friendly, therapy space at Elizabeth Downs find out more about Talking Matters and by checking our website or calling our office on (08) 8255 7137. There are also lots of great activity ideas on the Talking Matters Pinterest page. To keep up to date with new tips and ideas follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
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