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Lego Power! Legos are especially great for young children to work with. Handling the different shapes and sizes of the bricks allows them to practice their dexterity. As they work with their fingers and learn the different types of pressure they need to apply to different pieces, they’re building and strengthening the muscles in their hands and becoming more coordinated. This helps prepare them for other skills like writing. The Lego Juniors collection provides a great, safe first experience for children ages four to seven. The pieces are rounded and designed for tiny hands, so they get the benefit of working with Legos without any frustration. Spatial Skills Cooperative Play and Communication Skills It’s easy for kids to share and bounce ideas off of each other, and while they’re engaging in these cooperative construction projects, they are learning how to be friendlier and more socially adept. As they comment on one another’s Lego creations and build on each other’s imaginations, they strengthen their ability to articulate their ideas, describe their work, and express challenges they encounter. Some research has shown that cooperative block play even led to improve- ments in vocabulary, grammar, and verbal comprehension. Persistence There are going to be moments when your child builds a mighty tower only to have in come crashing down with one Continued on page 62 Article Brought To You By: GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN Fa FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018 58 Please consider becoming a nonprofit Board Member with Go Kids, Inc. For information, please email Larry Drurry, Executive Director at larryd@gokids.org. d o Ki s, I G Building structures, especially from a model or a blueprint, encourages kids to test spatial relationships and mentally rotate objects in the mind’s eye. The more they practice and engage in this type of play, the stronger they get at spatial visualization, mental rotation, and block building. In fact, studies have shown that there’s a correlation between children who show an interest in construction and higher scoring in spatial intelligence tests. A group of eight kids who participated in structured block play for five half hour sessions improved their ability to analyze 3D shapes in their mind’s eye. Furthermore, MRI scans of these kids showed increased activity in the region of the brain tied to spatial processing. While there still needs to be more research in this field, it’s clear that block play rewires children’s brains to allow them to better solve rotation problems in new ways. The various shapes, sizes, and colors of Legos provide end- less possibilities for a child’s imagination. As the Lego Movie teaches us, there really are no limitations to what kids can create. They can make a building entirely of Lego people and attach wheels and props wherever. When there is no right or wrong, their sense of creativity soars. This creative freedom strengthens a very particular kind of problem solving known by psychologists as divergent problem solving. In our daily lives we encounter two types of problems: convergent problems, where there is only one solution, and divergent problems, where there are multiple solutions. Children who regularly play with blocks show a greater ability to solve divergent problems, and do so using more creative solutions than children who don’t engage in block play. Since we are more likely to encounter divergent problems in our day to day lives than convergent ones, fostering your children’s love of Legos is actually better preparing them to succeed in life. Fine Motor Skills Creativity and Divergent Problem Solving C hances are you’ve come across a Lego or two in your day. Shelves are lined with them and kids are crazy about them. You may have even played with them your- self when you were a kid. While it’s no question that Legos provide loads of entertainment, those simple, colorful bricks also have a lot of teaching power. They may even change the way your child thinks! Here are just a few ways Legos enrich your child’s development: e m il y S gmhtoday.com 855 Moro Drive Gilroy gokids.org