This is one of those posts that I’ve been meaning to write for a seriously long time. One of those things about blogging is that you get ideas as things happen in your life, but trying to find the time to actually write about them is a whole different story. This one has been percolating since February!
Typically, I am a very left-brained individual and J takes after me in that sense. I like logic. I like numbers. I’m really good at reading a map or building things if given instructions. I love to knit and crochet because you create something beautiful from following a pattern. Create something completely out of the blue? Not my thing. I probably never made it all that far with jazz or a cappella partially because I didn’t stray to far from the written note. So as much as I would love to instill a sense of creativity in my children, that is definitely an area I’m not overly comfortable with myself.
So even though we have always had legos aimed at kids from 2-5 in our house, they were rarely played with. Sure, we built some extraordinarily tall towers with them, but that’s about it, there were never actual buildings built. Fast forward to J’s 6th birthday. One of my closest friends bought her a set from the lego friends collection. I had been looking at the collection myself and almost purchased the Lego Friends Brickmaster set as a way to use J’s love of books to encourage her to play with legos as well, but she had enough gifts that I held off. Well, the set my friend sent sparked a serious love in her.
The thing that I was most amazed with was how different legos are from when I was a kid. My recollection, and I admit I could be totally off base here, is that we had boxes of legos and were left to our own devices to create something. Now legos seem to come in sets and have instructions for budding engineers. To the left-brained mommy, it seems great – give me something to follow. But for the mommy who wants to encourage right-brained thinking, it seems kind of sad. There is also the feminist argument against pink, but I’m not going there. To J, these sets are just awesome.
The thing is that they are encouraging the kids to build really elaborate items, which isn’t as organic as the legos of my childhood. The set that we got featured a jeep, horse carrier, bridal station, horse and doll.
What is really cool about them, however, is that J sat there spell-bound and did most of it by herself. The only bummer came when she was almost fully finished with the jeep, had an issue, and I had to take the whole thing appart to fix the error that happened at the beginning. But she loved it. She then spent $20 of her birthday money on the Brickmaster set I had found earlier. A nice thing about this set is that you build various items as the story progresses and have to take some of them apart to build a different thing, which I believe teaches them that the sets are not built once and then only used as another toy to play with. There is less fear that a piece will break and it will take another 45 minutes to fix it.
Since February, she has purchased two additional sets with her own money – one large set with a treehouse “so the friends can have their clubhouse meetings,” and a small set with an outdoor bakery. The idea of meetings is hers, developed from the story line in the brickmaster book. Each set comes with a different doll, so she now has 5 dolls that can play among her various sets. The first week after purchasing them, she would come home after school and go straight to her room in order to play with them – any mother’s dream.
We also were early purchasers of a great product called Goldieblox. I had purchased it when it was still in prototype phase and had hoped to get it in time for her birthday. That didn’t happen, but by March our product had arrived and it is another great building toy encouraging little girls to consider engineering by combining building with a story. This isn’t as fun for J as the legos, but it is a hit. Yet another way to move away from the fairies and princesses while still staying in a comfortable place.
When we were at Disneyland in April, we stopped at the Lego store before dinner. J happily posed next to a life-sized Mia made out of legos. We are definitely hitting Legoland rather than Disneyland the next time around.