Summer Fun and Ideas

If you’re looking for some fun activities to plan or do during the summer, then make sure you visit the LEGO Education Community for lots of LEGO Education based inspiration!

 
Our Community gives you the chance to connect, engage and share your thoughts and ideas with other like-minded educationalists from all over the world.

 
Browse for teaching resources, chat to our experts or be inspired by how others are using LEGO Education in the classroom. Oh and the best bit, you get to create your very own LEGO avatar!
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Here’s some of our favorite posts …
The Marshmallow Challenge (using WeDo)
A week in the Life (of a robotics teacher)
Great use for all those lids!
Join the Community now.

Changing How We Learn to Realize the Future of Education

By Stephan Turnipseed, President Emeritus and Executive Director Strategic Partnerships, LEGO Education

We’re honored at LEGO® Education to be featured by the United Nations Global Compact and the Global Business Coalition for Education as an example of a business that’s made a smart investment in education. Our work will be featured at the World Economic Forum in Korea in a session titled “Mobilizing Business to Realize the 2030 Education Agenda.” Our story, outlined here, will be shared in full at the forum in the article, “Investing in Education: Lessons from the Business Community.”

Perhaps the most important – and troubling – realization the education community has come to over the past few decades is that many of the ways we’ve traditionally approached teaching have in fact been stifling critical thinking. The high-stakes testing and rote learning that defined previous generations of classroom education have now been outed as inhibitors to creativity rather than enabling new kinds of thinking.

What’s at stake in education today is not just the well-being of our young learners:

  • Research in the United States has shown that by 2020, 96% of jobs will require strong critical thinking skills and 70% will require mathematics and computational knowledge – both areas of need that many companies are now scrambling to address more fully.[1]
  • A waning interest in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) will have consequences for the future development of society, as these are the skills that will drive both the job market and economic growth worldwide.
  • Empowering children with critical thinking and creativity skills will further global literacy and other curricula that can quell poverty issues and socio-economic divides.
  • Setting up the world’s children to be agile thinkers will equip them with the understanding and knowledge necessary to face the challenges of a rapidly changing world.

As we’ve come to understand the limitations of top-down learning, we’ve found that learning through play can flip the education issue on its head. Making learning through play a reality for us has been about LEGO Education putting something in the hands of a child that can act as both a toy and an educational tool. The majority of households and classrooms with children worldwide already have LEGO® bricks, so improving the classroom experience has become about using toys in a way that can influence the classroom experience for the better.

Today, it’s understood that hands-on, open-ended learning puts children in a better position to feel motivated about thinking for themselves and developing new ways of approaching problems. Fostering an entrepreneurial spirit and teaching flexibility with experimentation leads to new skill sets that will span any and all jobs, disciplines or ventures a child may encounter down the road.

With an understanding of what today’s classroom needs to offer the young learners inside of it, it’s important to also realize how this can be scaled globally, as we’ll eventually require a universal design for learning to unite us and make learning products usable by and accessible to everyone. The progress that’s been made toward equity and equality in learning has already and will continue to break down the barriers to global literacy, the hard skills necessary to drive STEM fields forward and the critical thinking and creativity mindset that will enrich us globally.

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[1] A.P. Carnevale, N. Smith and J. Strohl. Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements through 2020. Washington, DC: Georgetown University, 2013.

An Open Letter to Honor Teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week

Dear Teachers,

During Teacher Appreciation Week, now is the time to reflect on the great work you are doing across the country for our children and the impact you’ve had on our lives. We depend on you each day to not only teach the next generation of Americans how to read and write, but to help build a skill-set to prepare children for 21st century jobs, many of which haven’t even been invented yet.

 

This is no easy feat. Teachers have one of the toughest jobs in America. You’re likely mentally, emotionally and physically drained from your more than 50-hour work weeks, and the underlying expectation to be “on” 24/7. Like all of us, I know that teachers have good days and bad days. You’re under increasing pressure to stay abreast of the ever-changing new policies, programs and curriculum models, while also trying your hardest to fit meaningful, personalized lessons into your class day. You’re asked to infuse creativity into the classroom, while your state and school district continue to add more to your agenda each day. Inevitably, there are also days when students are not paying attention and you don’t feel as appreciated as you should. During these days, remember that you are making a difference in our children’s lives and inspiring them, whether they showcase it or not.

 

Despite all of these obstacles placed in front of you, 98 percent of teachers believe teaching is more than a profession; it is how they make a difference in the world—one child at a time. You became teachers to make a difference in the lives of children and you deserve to be respected, valued, and supported.

 

I was one of those children whose life trajectory was changed by my teachers, all of whom shaped my life, and I have them to thank for who I am today.  The most significant impact on my life was as an 8th grader in Mrs. Mac’s science class.  She encouraged me to enter a science fair with a project around Boolean Algebra, the language of computers.  This challenge engaged my natural love of math with my equal love for hands on “tinkering”.  I used switches from a Trailways bus, a light from a Farmall Tractor and the hand generator from an old style telephone to complete the project.   To my amazement, I won! It made me realize I had other paths in life and did indeed have choices. While a life in agriculture would have been productive and fruitful, my life followed a different path opened up by my teacher.  I became an engineer and ultimately an industry leader in of all areas, education!

 

On this Teacher Appreciation Day, I applaud you for your courage, determination and selflessness to continue devoting your lives to help our children be curious, create, succeed and grow. Know that you are shaping the lives of our youth and I thank you for all that you do each day for our children; your passion, love and dedication does not go unnoticed.

 

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

 

Sincerely,

Stephan Turnipseed

President Emeritus and Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships, LEGO Education

Classroom

Addressing academic areas such as early language, literacy, math, and science in a playful, collaborative Environment

Use the LEGO® DUPLO® StoryTales Set to help develop important skills in language and literacy. Encourage children to work together in a group of 2-4. Ask them to build and tell a story about four friends on an adventure. Tell them to include at least one problem or obstacle the friends face and a solution. Children will practice collaboration, storytelling, and speaking and listening, and begin exploring story structure – an important foundational skill for literacy in school.

StoryTales

Use the LEGO DUPLO Tech Machines Set to help develop skills in early math and science. Encourage children to work together to create fantastic mechanical creatures. The screwdriver and special locking bricks allow children to construct in many different directions. Ask children to name the creatures and explain what functions they have and what they can do. Children will be practicing early math skills such as problem solving and recognizing shapes and colors. They will also be practicing early science skills such as observing and describing. For ages 2-5.

Tech Machines

Inspirational Activity: Developing learner skills such as self-efficacy, collaboration, confidence, persistence, and attention through play and collaboration

Creative Builder One

Use the LEGO® DUPLO® Creative Builder Set to develop important learner skills such as self-efficacy and persistence.

Encourage two children to work together. One child is the “builder” and one is the “brick finder.” The builder picks a card, which the brick finder does not look at. Looking at the card, the builder describes the model, one brick at a time, so that the brick finder can pick out the brick that matches the description and hand it to the builder. When the build is complete, ask the children to switch roles.

Children will be practicing collaboration, speaking and listening, problem solving, and attention to detail in this engaging activity! Use the playground to develop important learner skills such as collaboration and confidence.

Read a story about going to school, perhaps one about someone’s first day at school! Then, encourage children to talk about the story and going to school. Ask children to build and role-play a scene on the playground; it can be a scene from the story or one they create.

Children will be role-playing, exploring the world, and building confidence in their social skills. For ages 2-5.

Creative Builder Two

Inspirational Activity: Cultivating an area of whole-child development, cognitive development, through collaboration

Cafe Plus one

Use the LEGO® DUPLO® Café+ Set to develop cognitive skills in a collaborative environment. Encourage children to work together to build four or five food items. They may use the recipe cards or build them from their imaginations. Then, ask children to take turns being a customer and a waiter. The customer orders two items from the menu and checks how much each item costs to decide how much to pay the waiter altogether.

Children will be practicing early math skills such as simple addition and problem solving while also developing important collaboration skills. For ages 2-5.

Cafe Plus two

Inspirational Activity: Fostering an area of whole-child development, creative development, through collaboration

XL DUPLO

Use the LEGO® DUPLO® XL Brick Set to develop creativity skills such as self-expression through a collaborative activity. Encourage children to work together to plan and build a dream world consisting of any places, vehicles, and people they can imagine.

Ask them to take turns listening to each other’s ideas and then agree on one idea or build a world that incorporates all of them. When they are finished building, prompt role-play by asking them what roles are needed in this dream world and who will fill them.

Children will be not only developing creative-thinking skills but also practicing skills such as shape and color recognition and sorting and categorizing as they work together. For ages 2-5.

XL DUPLO Fish

 

All aboard for the LEGO Education Math Train for Preschool!

Math Train is an exciting and imaginative LEGO® Education Preschool way for preschoolers to work intuitively with early math while having heaps of fun. Together they will enjoy exploring numeracy and quantities as they use the crane to load and unload bricks onto the brightly colored train. The figures and engaging cargo and accessories encourage them to role play various functions and scenarios around the railway.

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Key Learning Values:

  • Simple addition and subtraction
  • Problem solving
  • Role play

But you may ask yourself, why LEGO® DUPLO® bricks?  LEGO® DUPLO® bricks are just the right size for preschool learners. These high-quality, timeless bricks help boost fine-motor skill development and create an ideal system for preschool learning.

The following topics can be taught:

  • Early Science
  • Early Math
  • Early Literacy
  • Playful Learning
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Social and Emotional Development

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The Math Train set is rated for ages 2-5 and includes 167 LEGO DUPLO elements. The set is priced at $99.95 USD.

Apply Now! 2015 LEGO Education Ambassador Program (LEAP)

Are you interested in joining a group of educators who are passionate about the LEGO Education brand? The LEGO Education Ambassador Program (LEAP) consists of a group of educators across many different grade levels who actively use LEGO Education in their classrooms, or school districts, and are wanting to further innovate the use of LEGO Education in the classroom. LEGO Education is interested in finding teachers who are thought leaders and could be considered experts in hands-on education amongst their peers. We are also looking for teachers who are willing to think outside-of-the-teaching-box.

 

The LEGO Education Ambassador Program offers many benefits that are unique to the Ambassadors within the program, such as a strong voice for LEGO Education customers, opportunity to build connections with other LEGO Education users around the United States and Canada, and exclusive LEGO Education Ambassador merchandise. The LEGO Education Ambassador Program also offers multiple opportunities including participation in product development feedback, participation in speaking events at local and national educational conferences, and the opportunity to serve as a lead educator using LEGO Education solutions through media opportunities and the LEGO Education Online Community.

LEAP 2015

The application for the LEGO Education Ambassador Program can be found at the following link (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LEAP_2015). The deadline is January 30, 2015 at 5:00PM CT for residents of the U.S. and Canada.  Once your application has been reviewed and approved by LEGO Education, you will be contacted to setup a time with the LEAP Coordinator for a one-on-one interview (no more than 15 minutes) and instructions to create a short, amateur video of an example of how you educate children with LEGO Education in your classroom (if you work primarily in the classroom).

School Library Journal and LEGO® Education Announce the Winner of the ‘Build Something Bold’ Library Design Award

Today, School Library Journal (SLJ) and LEGO Education announced the winner and runners-up for the inaugural ‘Build Something Bold’ Library Design Award.

The 2014 winner is Walnut Grove Elementary School library, in Madison County, Alabama. Led by librarian Holly Whitt, Walnut Grove’s library features a “digital diner,” with tabletop “jukeboxes” of technology, including tablets and an afterschool computer science program involving Arduino and LEGO Education robotics kits. Whitt will transform another part of the 2,500-square-foot library into a makerspace, which serves as a gathering point for tools, projects, mentors and expertise to enable anyone to make.

Despite being the highest poverty school in this rural district, Walnut Grove students have consistently led the district with the highest scores on state tests. The Walnut Grove school library, according to the application, “is an example of building a bold library through transforming physical spaces and creating authentic, diverse experiences for all learners.” Whitt will receive a $5,000 cash award, a profile in SLJ’s November 2014 issue and a LEGO Education StoryStarter Classroom set with software and curriculum.

Runner’s Up:

  • 1st runner up: Nimitz High School, Irving, Texas,  will receive a $1,500 cash award
  • 2nd runner up: Kaechele Elementary School, Glen Allen, Virginia,  will receive a $500 cash award
  • Editor’s Choice: Adlai Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois,  will receive a $500 cash award

“Congratulations to everyone who entered and to our winners!” said Stephan Turnipseed, Chief Evangelist, LEGO Education. “Our goal with this award is to encourage schools to use their library space to create an atmosphere that will make learning an exciting experience for students of all abilities and backgrounds.”

“School Library Journal is honored to highlight the work of these stellar examples, which highlight the creative work and ‘can do’ ethic of school librarians as they strive to provide creative learning opportunities for their students,” says Kathy Ishizuka, Executive Editor of SLJ.

The Build Something Bold Library Design Award recognizes innovative design within a school library or classroom that demonstrates exemplary and creative use of library space and resources to effectively engage children and/or teens. The winning entries demonstrated the effective use of creative library programming and design to enhance literacy, STEM and creative problem-solving.

The winner will be honored at the SLJ Leadership Summit 2014 in St. Paul, MN, on  October 26.

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ABOUT SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
School Library Journal is the most influential publication serving libraries—the largest market for new children’s and young adult books—and is the only full-service publication serving the youth and school library market. It reaches over 35,000 elementary, middle/junior, and senior high school librarians and youth service librarians in public libraries. SLJ educates its readers to become leaders in technology, reading, and information literacy.www.schoollibraryjournal.com. School Library Journal is a publication of Media Source Inc., which also owns Library Journal, The Horn Book publications, and Junior Library Guild.

 

About LEGO Education

Since 1980, LEGO Education (legoeducation.us) has delivered hands-on, curriculum-based resources for teachers and students worldwide. LEGO Education believes a hands-on, minds-on approach helps students actively take ownership of the learning process and develop 21st-century skills such as creative thinking and problem solving through real-life, engaging experiences.

 

LEGO and the LEGO logo are trademarks of the LEGO Group. ©2014 The LEGO Group.