Thousands of tiny LEGO pieces on the floor… kids working to recreate a photo from tiny bricks…kids and caregivers taking a break to have a moment of time where their only responsibility is to be creative…and lots of requests for photos of their completed work. Sounds like a great Kids’ STEM Lab to me! We hosted a fall themed LEGO building challenge, and even though it was super low prep, I think this was one of my favorite programs so far! We had a small handful of kids at the beginning of the program, but the open-ended nature of the project drew in more kids who did not know there was a program going on, but wanted to join in!
The skinny: This was a FREE program for us because we already had the LEGOs. The STEM Laboratory offered a free download of photos representing fall objects (black cat, tractor, pumpkin, apple pie, among others). You need to give your email address to access the free download. This program was very open ended, so it would make a great activity if you know kids will drop in, and not necessarily be there at the beginning.
Cost: FREE! Yeah! I love free programs! As long as you have LEGOs, this program costs nothing. If you do not have LEGOs, many libraries told me they have successful asked, and received, donations from community members. Otherwise, investing in LEGOs may well be worth your program dollars, or at least, a request to your Friends group.
Preparation: I simply spread a blanket on the floor, dumped the LEGOs on it, and printed out the photo challenge cards. Preparation=done!
Resources: I downloaded the **FREE** Fall LEGO Building Challenges from the STEM Laboratory. However, you could easily print your own photos if you wanted. The idea, though, is to give your program attendees a photo and ask them to reproduce that photo using LEGOs.
How it went: I only had two kids at the library for the beginning of the program, but as the program went on, we kept picking up more and more. I began by talking a little bit about sculpting, and how that was one method artists used to capture how something looked before film made taking photos much easier. I then showed the kids the photos I had and asked them to make a design out of LEGOs that represented that photo.
We spread a blanket on the floor and dumped the LEGOs onto the blanket. That way, the kids did not have to dig through the bins to find the pieces they wanted. It also made clean-up super simple! I have also heard that some librarians use a bed sheet and sew a cord into the sheet so they just draw up the cord to gather the sheet up with the LEGOS inside, and that is all they need to do for clean up!
This is a project that just takes time. And, you have to do it with the kids. For me, I realized that I often do not take the time to make something creative, using nothing but my imagination and trial and error until I get it right. Thankfully, the kids were used to this and had no problem coming up with great solutions to creating their pictures. I took photos often, and the kids **loved** having me document their work with a picture. Often during STEM Labs I give instructions and walk around the room while kids and parents work together. This time, though, I felt that I was actually fully participating along with the kids. It is important to do this once in a while, and I loved it!
What are your favorite LEGO programs?