At the Amesbury Public Library in Amesbury, MA, the children’s department runs a successful Family Lego® Wars program for kids and their grown-ups. Taking inspiration from other libraries, this 90-minute program provides an opportunity for adults and kids to work together to build Lego® designs based on given topics. The design challenges take place in a short of amount of time, 2-6 minutes, after which the designs are judged by staff members and given a score of 1-10. The scores from several rounds of challenges are posted for all to see. Two staff members facilitate the program by assigning the topics and judging the finished products. Taking comfort into account, all participants sit at a table together so everyone is on an equal level. Giving the families the opportunity to choose a team name for themselves at the beginning creates a sense of working as a whole. The program requires pre-registration – adults must give their family name and how many adults and kids will be attending. The librarians make it clear that a family can be any combination of adults and kids. The library has a small space so the librarians limit the program to 10 families which gives them room to move around comfortably and pick their Legos® out.
The program promotes intergenerational engagement because the families must produce one project together to be judged. The interaction between the children and adults allows the family members to discover what each person’s strength is, and they collaborate to create the best-designed Lego® structure. The program promotes creative thinking about how to use the materials given (Legos®), and how to interpret the assigned topic in a fun, competitive way. The librarians don’t provide any examples of completed Lego® projects because they want families to have an organic building experience. The librarians find it’s not hard for both adults and kids to be engaged in this program. Making challenges quick means everyone must participate or their team will fall behind. Keeping a score card makes the team as a whole want to succeed, and librarians find that some adults are more competitive than the kids! Conversation happens naturally during this program however there are times when it becomes obvious that communication has broken down when, for example, the Lego® structure produced is not cohesive.
This program is fast-paced, fun, comfortable, competitive, and involves social interaction and collaboration. Families work together to solve the challenges by producing creative Lego® designs to achieve the highest score. It’s inexpensive to run and since all kids are familiar with Legos®, it doesn’t require a lot of staff facilitation in terms of learning something new or complicated. This type of program could be replicated at any library or at a museum with challenge topics that relate to a museum’s collection or exhibits.
Special thanks to Clare Dombrowski, Children’s Librarian at the Amesbury Public Library. http://amesburylibrary.org/
Learn more about Lego® Wars from the Earlville Free Library in Earlville, NY in this lesson plan.
Learn more about The Lego® Group’s philosophy on the importance of play in several articles found here.