Tinkering and making through the eye of a 5 year old

tinkering with lego

What if I tell you that kids aged 5 to 8 can learn the basis of 21st century skills with a playful project that doesn’t require technology or to buy special supplies. All you need are the LEGO bricks sitting around your home. 

The particular project that inspired me to write this post was imagined by my son Zack. Zack wanted to recreate a show he likes to watch. Since I told him that I won’t buy Paw Patrol toys, he went for the next best thing: building the lockout tower and the vehicles with LEGO all by himself.

By doing so, I gave my child the chance to foster his engineering skills, problem-solving skills, tinkering skills and storytelling skills. I realized the full extent of the educational value when my son proudly told me how he figured out how to build Ryder’s rescue ATV. Then, I watched him play. He created his own rescue situations. The situations evolved as he integrated other LEGO constructions into the story. How he played was bound by his own imagination and his desire to recreate how he views Paw Patrol instead of being confine to what was offered by a toy maker. That made me proud of him.

If your kid is not into LEGO, you could do similar projects with cardboard. My point is to provide children with ways to be makers, not just consumers. To get them truly engaged, it has to come from their own motivation or inquiry.

Best LEGO sets for children

Our free-building stock is made of LEGO City  and LEGO Creator sets. My son and I like them because they provide a huge range of vehicles, people and many ways to depict real life situations. Pretend play is crucial to help children comprehend the world. Since each set doesn’t take too long to build my son doesn’t mind reducing the structures to pieces when he’s done playing with them.

Initially, I have my doubts about the Minecraft sets. After I have seen them in action, I changed my mind. Kids tend to free-build instead of following the instructions with the Minecraft collection, just like they do when they play Minecraft. I particularly recommend the Jungle Tree House for its bricks and minifigures selection.