Growing up I never imagined building bricks, like LEGOs or BrickLab Brick packs, would be a serious part of curriculum; I just liked to build and create with them. I enjoyed reading the instructions and following each step to create something fun and exciting. At the time I had no idea that I was building some of my first STEM skills.
Once I became an educator, I realized how useful building bricks are as a teaching tool. They promote creative thinking by allowing students to assemble and disassemble creations to discover how they actually work. With the pieces, students are given the chance to learn in a tangible way instead of just listening to a teacher explain abstract concepts.
In my library I utilize building bricks in myriad ways, but the magic mostly happens in our makerspace. I have a LEGO wall, which is probably the part of the library I am most proud of. The wall is visible from the hallway and often teachers come into the library to just tell me how much they enjoy seeing the students create.
To construct it, I purchased brick panels and attached them to the wall using command strips. They have held up all school year without any issues. I also purchased bricks and separated them by color in a standing clear container. I have different task cards, some that I made and some that came with LEGOs. Students have the choice of being able to build from the task cards or to be as creative as they please.
Bricks are an easy way to integrate different STEM topics into your classroom or library. And if you think they are only useful for one subject, think again. Here are activity ideas for incorporating building bricks into three subjects, but the possibilities are as far-reaching as your creativity.
Math. Some students need manipulatives to be able to understand math and grow their skills. There is no better way to do that than with building bricks. Have the younger students count the pieces and practice counting by tens. The older students can use the bricks to develop multiplication, division, and ratio skills.
Science. A fun idea is for the students to use the bricks to represent the atoms bonding with molecules and crystals, giving them tangible imagery to visualize objects that are too small to see.
Literacy. To combine STEM and literacy, I love to have students write a story or a word problem and then make a stop-motion film using the bricks to share the story with their classmates. There are many stop-motion tools to choose from, but I recommend the HUE animation studio.
The biggest piece of advice that I give other librarians or educators who are starting to use building bricks in the library is that the pieces are so much more than just a toy. Bricks are tools for developing the younger generations to think outside the box and are preparing them for jobs that do not even exist yet.