Over the 35 years that I did speech therapy, I used lego Duplo sets over and over to encourage single words to little sentences through pretend play with their favorites,–My First Shop, Family House, Big Farm or Pizzaria. Sets for 7 years and up were essential to keep the attention of boys in particular ages 6-9. They would do most any task if the reward was building with legos!
Now I have a 7 year-old next to me who is putting together lego’s Star Wars “Imperial Assault Hovertank,” and I hear him counting slowly to 20. So many visual spacial skills are tapped as he is looking and thinking in 3D, matching a piece to the illustration and then to where it is placed on the model. He was counting the bumps (sorry there must be a more scientific term) on a flat piece to match the pictured illustrations. Following directions teaches kids to follow a sequence, as well as patience, essential skills for success in the classroom. Picking up, pushing on and removing the little pieces build fine motor skills too. “Oh no, how do I fit this thing in?” was overheard as my grandson had completed two structures to be combined. Time to call in some problem solving and critical thinking to find the error and correct it. He flipped the directions back a few pages, “I’m gonna go back here and see how it goes on.” Finally, whether your builder made a model or created his own space ship, fort or house, creative play ensues, building stories that feed into reading and writing skills.