What children can learn from Lego’s

by Mary Ann on November 12, 2011

Legos structure picture

Lego's - we love em and we hate em!

Lego’s have seemed to be my nemesis in the home. We have tried seemingly everything to keep a handle on them. We have tried individually assigned drawers, organizing legos by color and type, moving legos to nearly every room in our house, laying blankets down every time they played (and then dumping all of the Legos back into one enormous bucket)…you name it. I have been frustrated many, many times with Legos but I surprisingly continued to try and balance my boys love for them with my intolerance for them (it’s hard when you continue to step on those little peices barefoot every day!).

After a rather tearful incident a few weeks (or months ago), something began to change inside me. I realized that the boys are learning so much more than I ever realized through their Lego adventures. I knew that I liked them to be able to play with them, that is why I tried so hard to keep trying to figure out the best place or best way to store them. But what I didn’t realize is how creative they have been getting with them!

kid playing legos picture

Miles, who co-authored this guest blog, and his legos

We only had one rule during Lego play, that was to keep all of the Legos ON or under the lego table after they are done playing. Time after time I reminded them after I stepped on pieces all over the basement! Finally – after the 100th time I was done. I wasnt mean, I simply (and dramatically) put the Legos in a big bucket (but didnt take any care to keep any of their detailed structures in tact). Tears were streaming as everyone just sat and watched. I felt terrible. They felt terrible. I told them that I felt terrible.

Then the following scripture came to mind which I explained to the boys. “I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” that was exactly it! All they had to do was follow my one rule (boundary) and they had all the freedom in the world, but when they did not what I asked (which was simple) they had no promise, no reward, no freedom. It was an amazing lesson.

The Legos stayed put away until everyone (including cousins who play with us all the time) wrote a letter or contract indicating the reason he likes to play Legos and how he vows to follow the ‘rule’. The letters were so cute, and they understood them to be contracts (many lessons there).

kid making legos structure picture

Payton who loves Lego's so much he signed a contract

We have recently reopened the “Lego game” (as they proudly refer to it) and the lessons are flowing. I asked my sweet son Miles (age 9) to write a few lessons he is learning from just playing Legos. Here are some of the things he has come up with:

What children learn from Lego’s by Miles Spencer:

  •  Money – They have designed their own monetary system including certain values for gems, pennies, gold etc… I have talked a little about what people did before gold came into society, how money has inflated, etc…. based on their creation of money.
  •  Building structures / infrastructure – we have talked about architecture and how it works. They haven’t tried it yet, but I am trying to inspire them to be an architect on paper and design a Lego building or house before they actually build it.
  •  Punishment – They have set up capital punishment! I couldn’t believe it. There are police and arrests made, but if you do something really bad they have three choices of death! I didn’t even knew they knew about that. But this has brought us to discuss ethical issues, why it is important to follow laws, the job of policemen, what it is actually like to be in a jail, how being obedient actually is freeing, etc..
  •  Trading – trading commodities, putting a value on items, sharing, etc.. We have briefly discussed capitalism and entrepreneurship.
  •  Government and Following rules- They have kings or queens, presidents and VP’s, Lords and ladies. They have had coup’s and impeachments. As you can imagine there have been many disagreements in ‘Lego Game’ policy. But they have had so much experience in negotiations and compromise. It has been incredible! I could not teach this type of lesson as well. What fantastic leaders they are learning to become from plastic pieces.
  •  They host live auctions – we have learned and replicated a few auctions and then one cousin decided to host an art auction.
  •  Jobs…..so many different kinds their Lego guys apply for. There are firemen and police and mailmen, and so much more. I love that they are understanding the variety of work that is in the world.
  •  Math – even the three year old understand’s their nick names of pass me a “twoer” or a “fourby”. They are understanding symmetry.

These are just some my son mentioned, and some I have seen, but I know there is so much more that I don’t see.

kids playing legos games

Even a 3 year old can creatively play with legos.

Every time I have described some of the things my boys (and cousins) have been doing with the “lego game”, people inevitably respond with, “but my kids would never be that creative!” If the environment is right I think anychild left to his own creativity will come up with his own expressions. In order to inspire learning through legos (or similar), my suggestions would be the following:


  •  Make it a safe, relaxed environment
  •  Give them space – Don’t dictate every move, or every building of every piece. (the 3 year old comes up with horse and buggy carriages or space ships on his own). They can do it.
  •  Let them continue to add on. My son said he loves the Lego game not only because he loves to build with his hands in that way, but also because he loves to see his accomplishments when he is done. And then to continue to add to it day after day. We leave their structures in tact on a shelf.
legos shelf picture

The lego shelf to store the boys creations for tomorrow

  •  Playing Lego’s is a reward (after chores and such). It also acts as an incentive to get up in the morning. They can play legos until it’s time for breakfast if they want. But if they sleep in there is not time for Lego’s before breakfast.
  •  It is not only available during learning time, in fact I don’t really even encourage them to play it during learning time (and they usually don’t) – this is their free time stuff (which is enormous learning – I could not be more thrilled).
  • 6) Sit and read in the same room while they play. Not only to notate sparks or ways you can inspire them, but just to enjoy what they come up with in a non threatening or stifling way.
  •  Don’t make them put away their creations every night. Find a way they can keep their city, or whatever they are building put together so they can add on and play more tomorrow rather than having to start all over. That is when the real creativity begins.
  •  Give them time. It takes time to get into some of these detailed Lego presidential elections or Lego game auctions, etc…. they can’t get much done in 15 minutes. Allow hours if needed (based on your schedule).
  •  Have a huge variety of Lego’s. (yard sales, DI, hand me downs from college kids, whatever). Those big Lego sets that they sell and then show you step by step how to put them together are great, but they lose interest quickly. The creativity is in the maker of the Lego’s not in the child. We still buy some lego sets and they put them together step by step as directed, but they quickly become dissected and made into something else.


  •  We will discuss the history of lego’s, where they were made, how they started, how they are made, etc… which I am sure will lead to many more discussions.
  •  I am going to inspire with models built of certain cities and then talk about those cities, cultures, map work (maybe do a Lego map?)
  •  We are going to go to Lego Land, and/or other similar displays. and talk about where some of the Lego lands are in the world.
  • 4) I am going to try and introduce a concept like supply and demand through the Lego game rather than just telling them about it.

I am inspired and motivated by my children’s ability to learn and their level of creativity. I could have never imagined, and I can barely even think of what we would be missing out on if I hadn’t gotten over my negative thought patterns of “Lego’s are a mess” and “Lego’s waste time”! Thank you Mary Ann!

Leah Spencer

Want to see the beginning of Leah’s “seeing” what her boys love and how they learn. You will also enjoy the Spencer Sparks which is about learning style in children.

Leah Spencer is the mother of three boys and  little angel Ella who is two. She is a very special friend. She is becoming a master at seeing children’s SPARKS and then responding to them

Do you have a great story about how your children have learned a multitude of lessons from one item or event. We would love to have you share it. You can use the comment box below or email me and become a guest writer. I would LOVE to have you.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kayleen November 13, 2011 at 7:14 pm

We love LEGOS at our house too. But that wasn’t always the case for me. In fact at one point LEGOS became a 4-letter word in my mind. Stepping on them all over the place with barefeet no less. But we finally set up some boundaries as well and the love affair began. My husband loves Legos so much that years after our son was born he admitted why he liked the name Zach and wanted to give this name to our son. He said he always loved a particular 80’s commercial with a jingle that went something like this… “Zach… Zach… Zach’s a Lego Maniac….” And to think all this time I thought the name was coming from some deeper inspiration or possibly a family name on his side. LOL
We are hoping to someday take our kiddos to Legoland too! 🙂


Thanks for this brilliant post Leah! Your kids are learning valuable lessons and having fun at the same time!


admin November 17, 2011 at 10:06 pm

I loved your reply. Way to go dad! So funny. : )


Mary Ann January 7, 2012 at 1:59 am

I just got a terrific set of photos of storing legos. Check out Randi Boone’s facebook page and look under her photos. https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1258385263


Florentina June 22, 2013 at 6:12 am

Excellent post! We will be linking to this particularly great content on our site.

Keep up the great writing.


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