Let’s use LEGOs
to support language!
Who hasn’t played with LEGO at some point in their lives?
LEGO blocks are one of the world’s most popular games, with thousands of children and adults playing with them every day.
What is it about them that we love?
LEGOs are adaptable and colourful, and they encourage children’s creativity and ingenuity by allowing them to build new constructions at any time. You never get bored with LEGOs!
But what if I told you that LEGOs can also be used to help your child’s language development?
Let’s see how:
In 2004, neuropsychiatrist Daniel LeGoff invented an innovative way to support social communication and language, “LEGO-based Therapy”.
Through play, this approach can support many aspects of communication and language, allowing children to learn while having fun.
How to play?
The game has three players who must collaborate to build the best LEGO model.
If there are two children, the parent can play the role of player, or be a helper and mediator if there are three children.
Each player has a specific role:
- The Engineer reads or looks at the instructions (or pictures) and tells which pieces go where to the other two players.
- The “Supplier” follows the engineer’s instructions and provides the correct parts to the builder.
- The “Builder” collects the pieces from the supplier and follows the engineer’s instructions on how to assemble them.
You can also play in twos, in which case one of the players takes on the role of the supplier as well (engineer+supplier or supplier+builder).
If you want to play alone with your child, I recommend having a match where you are the engineer+supplier and they are the builder, followed by a match where you are the builder+supplier and they are the engineer.
Here’s an example of how the game works:
The engineer must explain how to construct this colourful tower.
He/she will be the only player who can see the instructions (the others will not even be able to sneak a peek), so he/she must be very careful to explain the various steps clearly.
The engineer says: “We need a blue square with four dots and a red square with four dots”.
The supplier must then search the Lego box for the two blocks and hand them over to the builder.
The engineer says: “Place the red block on top of the blue block”.
The builder must be able to comprehend and carry out the instruction.
And so on until the model is complete.
Sounds like a no-brainer, right?
But no, I can assure you that without adequate attention, memory, and language skills, the task will be nearly impossible.
What are we training through this game?
Language comprehension (receptive language):
The child must listen to, understand, and follow instructions that contain at least three key words (eg “Take the big red square” or “Put the orange triangle on top of the blue rectangle“).
Attention and Memory:
The child will need to pay attention in order to provide the correct information, or to keep the verbal information in his working memory in order to correctly follow the instruction.
Expressive language (vocabulary and grammar):
The child will be required to use a large vocabulary consisting of colours, shapes, and numbers. Furthermore, they will need good grammar to express and comprehend the position of the blocks (e.g. knowing the prepositions – above, below, beside).
There may be (or rather, will be) adverse situations to overcome at times.
As an example, suppose the engineer does not provide the necessary information (he could forget a key element). This is an excellent opportunity to teach the other two players how to ask for clarification or repetition of a sentence if they are unsure about something (very important in school).
Another example is when the engineer provides accurate information but the supplier or builder does not comprehend it. This could be an opportunity to teach how to repeat or change the sentence so that the other person understands.
Sharing, turn taking, and conflict resolution:
Children will learn to collaborate for a common goal (to build something together). There are no winners in this game; everyone wins by completing the model.
Since it is impossible to continue building if one of the children has not finished his turn, the children will also practise waiting and turn taking.
Well, this is a little introduction on how LEGO can actually be a key ally in our language support journey.
For more information on this, do not hesitate to contact me here.
To learn about other games that will help you support your child’s language, take part in my parent training …
Looking forward to hearing from you!