Using LEGO® DUPLO®for Open-Ended Play

Growing up, my brother loved LEGO® bricks. I don’t remember playing with them much when I was a kid, I was more the doll kinda girl. My husband on the other hand, grew up creating and building with LEGO® bricks, he had thousands. When we found out our first child was a boy, my husband’s excitement grew. He was excited to buy toys and have an excuse to play with them! He started talking about LEGO® toys right away. Yep, that was one of the things he was most excited for, LEGO® toys!

Since LEGO® bricks are not made for infants, he had to wait just a bit but fast forward four children and many years later and we have an abundance of LEGO® bricks in our home. We have lots and lots of sets that can be built into planes, recycle trucks, fire trucks, Elsa’s castle, an RV, another castle, two more planes, and so many, many more. My two oldest love playing, building and imagining with their LEGO® toys. They can spend hours creating their own little worlds. I love to just sit and listen to the many voices that come from their adventures.

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Now that Miss B is out of the baby phase, she often wants to do exactly what her big brother and big sister are doing. That means she is old enough to want to play with LEGO® bricks also. Play is truly essential for early learning because it IS the way young children learn about their world. It is great when you can let your children take the lead in playtime. Rather than lead, let their imaginations soar!

She does okay with regular LEGO® bricks when Daddy or I sit down to help, but they are still quite small for her little hands. I love that the LEGO® Company offers a variety of types available for various ages. LEGO® DUPLO® are the perfect size for her age, independence and imagination; they are actually twice the size of standard bricks. They are made specifically for the little ones ages 1 1/2-5.

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When we sit together to build, I love that I can use the LEGO® DUPLO® as a fun learning opportunity. We count the DUPLO® bricks, sort them by color and shape. The LEGO® DUPLO® sets include fun cards that you can use as an easy blueprint to build. Our sets included cards to build various cars, firetrucks, tow trucks and traffic lights as well as a caterpillar in another set.

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We first pick out all the pieces we need, then I have Miss B tell me which piece comes next.  In the beginning I had to point to the piece and she picked it out from the pieces we collected. After building a few, she was able to follow the picture without my guidance. She kept telling me, “Mommy, shhhh! Let me do it by myself.” Her confidence and independence grew with each one she completed.

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We love that just like with standard LEGO® bricks, LEGO® DUPLO® bricks offer open-ended play.  My children always enjoy building the new designs from each set but then eventually create their own designs, building whatever their imagination dreams up.  The minifigures are always considered the best pieces in our house.  They become moms and dads with normal families and then become doctors and superheros, princesses and fire fighters, you name it, their minifigures have played the role.

Being a parent to four children means that my time is divided.  A good portion of my day is spent with homeschooling and really have felt pulled this last year with our newest addition.  My goal is to try to spend some meaningful time with each child every day.  Sometimes that involves them helping me cook, working on an art project, tucked in a corner reading together or playing “what if” on the floor with our LEGO® bricks.

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Playing with your children and letting them take the lead really allows you a window into their soul and to nurture their creativity.  It allows you to see how their little minds and imaginations work.  We often take great adventures while playing “what if” and many times end up in lots and lots of laughter.  Let their imaginations run wild, even if it is on the silly and unrealistic side.  Go ahead and build that castle that flies or silly animal with two heads if that is what they want to do.

Our checklist of to-dos grows longer every day but those needs will be there every day.  These early days of childhood disappear faster than any checklist can.  As a parent, I have vowed to enjoy as many moments with my child and their ever-growing imaginations as possible.

How do you encourage open-ended play with your children?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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