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I am always on the lookout for new activities for Caroline to do. As a former engineer, and chemistry teacher, I just love when the activities promote problem solving and creativity, along with other technical and physical skills.
A new product was recently sent to me for a blog review, and I was very excited to accept this review. I have to say, I pass up a lot of reviews because the products just aren’t things we are interested in. This, however, caught my attention immediately:
Play to Learn…With Bricks (Activity Books)
These activity books have step by step instructions on how to build with Legos! I loved the idea of having an instruction book. Obviously, there is tons of creative play to be had with Legos and just seeing what you can build on your own without instructions, but there are also a lot of valuable skills being learned when you have a book teaching you how to build as well.
Following written instructions is a skill that is very much needed in life. Whether we are putting together Ikea furniture, applying for a job, or filing taxes, written instructions are useful to be able to follow and follow well.
Sometimes seeing the possibilities of what can be done (building a penguin out of Legos), opens up a whole world of creative thought that hadn’t been accessed in our minds previously. Perhaps the bin of Legos was intimidating to start with… and only simple towers and buildings had been built.
Now, a child sees that they can create a penguin, and the next thing you know they are making a whole zoo of animals on their own, and reaching for the stars. Seeing one outcome can inspire many more!
So before I get to our review and experience with these books, I wanted to quote the website directly so you can get an idea of what these books have to offer. View more about these books at https://www.sofieandnate.com.
“The concept of our books is simple. Using the directions provided, parents and caretakers can help their children take on imaginative projects that will help your entire family bond as your child has fun and absorbs a number of important developmental concepts. Incorporate learning into playtime and get fantastic results!
We promote activities that will teach your children:
• problem solving,
• fine motor skills,
• written numbers,
• simple positioning concepts,
• simple directions, and
• grouping objects.”
You guys, I can’t love these books more!
I wasn’t quite sure if Caroline would be ready for these books and this type of structured activity (she just turned 3 two months ago). I was so wrong. She excelled and it was so much fun to watch.
We were given several books to look at, and they were all wonderful.
Here’s what we loved so much:
1. Material list
Each activity starts by showing each color of blocks needed, the size and shape, and number of each block. This allows the correct blocks to be found prior to starting the activity. The colors are shown visually and the names written out.
2. Step by step instructions
The instructions are very easy to follow. My just turned 3 year old (2 months ago), was able to tell me exactly what we needed for each step (the size of the blocks, the color, and the number that we needed of each). She could follow the pictures and tell me which blocks to put on the bottom, middle, top, etc.
3. Visual instructions
Each step has great visual instructions. The materials list is pictured for each step, along with the final product for each step. The steps are small enough that my 3 year old could tackle them with minimal help, but not too easy that she wasn’t being challenged.
4. Sorting and Grouping
These instructions promote having a focused plan. Sorting blocks by size and color is promoted in the material list step, along with each sub step afterwards. The sorting and grouping was a fantastic activity in and of itself.
In the materials section, along with in each step, the number of blocks needed is listed out in number form. Caroline got great practice identifying numbers, and then counting the correct number of blocks needed.
Color practice is everywhere. The books are in color, so the visuals are very easy to follow. The color names are listed out in the main materials section. Great practice for identifying colors and following instructions using the correct colors.
7. Positioning Concepts
Positioning the Legos is probably the hardest part of building these objects. The pictures help so much with each step. Again, my just turned 3 year old, could look at the pictures and figure out how the blocks should be positioned. She preferred to have me build the penguin that we were working on, because these tiny Legos are still a bit to difficult for her to put together on her own.
As you’ll see in the video below, however, she was the one telling me what to do and following the instructions. As we got further into building the penguin, she really had to start being super specific with her verbal instructions to me.
I’d challenge her to not just say to “place the yellow blocks on the bottom”, but rather to “place the yellow blocks on the bottom, with the slopes on the outside”, etc. If she gave me vague instructions, I’d purposefully do the step incorrectly, and she’d have to refine her instructions to help me get the step correct. It was amazing to watch her brain come up with better verbal instructions to help me do the step correctly!
8. Fine motor skills
Normal sized Legos are hard to put together. My 3 year old can’t do it yet. Her little fingers just aren’t strong enough. So, that’s the only limitation right now from having her do this on her own. We don’t have any regular sized Legos yet (other than the samples we were sent), but now that we have these books we are planning on purchasing some. She’ll get used to putting them together and probably soon be able to be successful in doing so. These books are really going to get a lot of use for a long while! The recommended age is 4+. This is so true! I think by age 4 Caroline will be doing these on her own, and at age 33 I still had fun with it! 😉
9. Positive Reinforcement and Immediate Feedback
Each step has a visual of what the object should look like when the step is complete. In this way, the child has instant feedback as to how they are doing, and they know if they are building the object correctly, simply by matching their object to each visual step. I love the instant feedback, and that they can know how they are doing as they build. At the end of each page are some positive words “Yay! Great Work!”, “Woohoo!”, etc.
10. Varying levels of difficulty
The books have activities with different levels of difficulty. Each activity lists the difficulty: easy, medium, or hard. I love that there are varying levels and different types of challenges.
11. Book Familiarity
The book starts with a little introduction for the parents. It then has a Table of Contents! Love this! Children can learn how to use books and find things within a book using the table of contents and page numbers. They also get number practice in this way. Even the table of contents is visual in nature, showing the final object that will be made.
Instructions are left to right, top to bottom. Again, this is just more great book and reading familiarity that our children are getting exposed to.
These books are so much fun. Yes, it’s a focused activity, and yes it’s also a lot of fun! The animals in the Zoo book are all named “Polly Panda”, “Penny Penguin”, etc. The colors can be switched up for some added creativity, and the book really inspires children to think of and make even more items. I love the fun that can and will be had with using these!
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