Dropbox Plays With LEGO on Treasure Island

On Saturday October 3rd,  2015 Play-Well participated in Dropbox’s Family Fun Day on Treasure Island in the Bay Area of California.

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Dropbox in LEGO.

 

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Even the paramedics got into the action of playing with LEGO.

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Much of the Dropbox staff loved playing with LEGO.


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If you are interested in more information about our Take Your Kid To Work Days,  simply complete our Special Event Request Form.  You can also find out about our other Special Events here.

Play-Well’s Annual Halloween Costume Contest

Time for our annual Play-Well Halloween Contest.  Each year, we are amazed by the creativity of some of the Halloween costumes that we see from our students and their parents.  Check out this costume submitted by a parent last year.

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This year, we wanted to celebrate that creativity by having a Halloween Costume Contest.  Post your Halloween costume on our Twitter Page, Facebook Page, tag us on Instagram, or email it to jeff@play-well.org, and you could possibly win a Play-Well Halloween LEGO Bow Tie or LEGO Force Awakens Set.

 

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This is how we play well on Halloween!

One of our Play-Well Staff created this elaborate setup to give kids candy for Halloween.

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Have a safe, fun, candy-filled Halloween!

 

A CNN Contributor Wrote That LEGO Kills Creativity In Children…Here Is Our Response.

CNN Contributor, Jake Wallis Simons, recently wrote a opinion piece, Why Is LEGO Ruining Our Kids’ Imagination.  Here is our response.

Hi Jake,

I recently read your opinion piece on CNN about Why LEGO Is Ruining Our Kids’ Imagination.

As an adult who plays with LEGO, an uncle of kids who play with LEGO and as someone who is part of an organization that teaches engineering concepts to kids using LEGO as the primary teaching medium, I completely disagree with you.  In my experience, LEGO continues to expand the imaginations of kids all around the world.

Tablets, TV shows, and video games are constantly competing for a child’s attention. Surrounded by all this technology, we somehow have more children than ever before choosing to play with small pieces of plastic in a pretty similar way to what kids did back in the 1950’s.  I’d consider that a win.

Sure, kids these days now have themed sets, from Lord of the Rings to Star Wars.  But when I watch my 8-year-old nephew flying Harry Potter on a Ninjago Dragon to Hobbiton, I realize that he is still using his imagination.  He just asked his grandfather to buy him a 2000-piece LEGO Simpsons House for Christmas, even though he has never watched The Simpsons.  Why?  Because the LEGO kit looks cool and seems challenging to build.  Completing such a complex, big build will not only boost his building confidence, but teach him subtle building tricks like how to build an angled roof, which I never learned with my 80’s LEGO sets.

Like a writer who needs inspiration by writing someone’s else words before starting to write their own, these kids are simply starting their creative process, and these sets help them get there.  These themed sets are bringing in more kids that otherwise may not have gotten involved with LEGO before, as they feel a connection to Harry Potter, Bilbo Baggins, and Spiderman.

It’s true that, for a certain kind of kid, a bin of bricks by itself can be an amazing springboard for creativity.  But that’s kind of like assuming that the Mona Lisa can be painted with a box of twelve crayons by any child with no prior experience in the arts.  Sure, someone can do it.  But there is more than one path to finding out just how creative you can be.  For some kids, continuing down that path is easier when you have something really cool to show for all that hard work.

As adults and educators we know the skills, experiences and values that we want to share with children but part of what creates a life-long learner  and a well-rounded child is empowering them to discover those things on their own. That means that to a certain degree, we have to meet kids where they’re at and not send the message that the things they like are somehow wrong or bad. The truth is that kids love Super Heroes and Harry Potter and if we can use that love to foster an appreciation for science, engineering or learning in general, we absolutely should.

When you speak of kids having their creativity stifled, it ignores the fact that kids come to building with LEGO in a variety of ways.  If you are trying to help them find their creative confidence to build, you need to know and embrace where they are coming from.

In our engineering classes, we get kids of all building persuasions. There are some kids who love to build a set and are adamant about leaving it on the shelf never to be touched. There are the kids who choose to build based on whatever pops into their heads.  And we have seen kids who aren’t confident building at all. For all of these kids, as they build increasingly sophisticated projects over a 5-day camp, you can see their confidence and creativity getting stronger simply through the sheer act of building.

I’ve watched students in our classes start by simply making the projects we ask them to do.  As soon as they have accomplished that task, they can get into the good stuff, where we provide open-ended building challenges for them to solve. Because of the small wins of building the easier projects, they are more willing to take on more difficult builds. 

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LEGO Sumerian Ziggurat built by students.

It’s easy to say that this or that thing just isn’t as good as it used to be. All the fear-driven articles we saw last year about the evolution of LEGO faces  is a good example of that.  I, like many, have a tendency to use the “kids these days…” argument when talking about popular toys.  I really shouldn’t judge though, since I grew up in the 80’s, when some of the most popular toys were He-Man and My Little Pony.  Talk about gender stereotypes.  It’s gotten better.  It’s far from perfect, but overall you have more kids building and playing.  Isn’t that what we want?

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A letter to parents included in 70’s LEGO sets. Here is the story of the person who found it: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jobarrow/its-the-imagination-that-counts

As for LEGO Friends, we have seen kids who love it and kids who shy away from it.  We have learned ourselves that we must include the whole rainbow in our teaching kits because despite what “society” tells us, all kids like all colors.  This is a complicated issue, but again, you are getting more kids to build who otherwise might not.  And where LEGO may have misstepped with some of the less than stellar LEGO sets of the 80’s and 90’s, they made up for it with some encouragement (I.e. LEGO Scientist).

Kids are still kids.  Just like previous generations, they still play to create, to express themselves, and to solve problems. And there aren’t many toys out there that allow kids to do that anymore besides LEGO.  That’s why I teach with this toy and not with others.

So to answer the questions posed in your article, what sort of adults will today’s children become? What sort of world will they create? And what are their toys actually doing to them?

My answer to that as an educator would be to tell someone who is worried to first just breathe and relax.  My confidence in the future is reinforced everyday in the classes I see.  Kids amaze me constantly by coming up with solutions to building challenges that I would have never come up with.  They are just creative as kids of the past, if not more. They are curious about the world and want to be challenged.

Just like with any of us, that palpable, creative energy that children have for building just needs to be encouraged more.  And LEGO plays a crucial role in helping to cultivate that.  We witness kids building their futures worlds in our classes on a daily basis.  If what they create in class is any indication of what the future may hold, the future is going to be pretty awesome.

Respectfully,

Jeffrey Harry

Play-Well’s Halloween Costume Contest

Each year, we are amazed by the creativity of some of the Halloween costumes that we see from our students and their parents.  Check out this costume submitted by a parent last year.

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How we play well on Halloween: https://playwelltek.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/this-is-how-we-play-well-on-halloween/

This year, we wanted to celebrate that creativity by having a Halloween Costume Contest.  Post your Halloween costume on our Twitter Page, Facebook Page, or email it to jeff@play-well.org, and you could possibly win a Play-Well Halloween LEGO Bow Tie or LEGO Monsters Set.

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Have a safe, fun, candy-filled Halloween!

 

Thankful Kids LEGO Project!

One of our Play-Well students, Curtis, did something really amazing and generous for his mom.  She needed a teaspoon holder, so he built one out of LEGO.  His act of kindness and creativity inspired us to create the Thankful Kids LEGO Project.     

Teaspoon Holder

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Every holiday season, parents work really hard to make the holidays extra special for their kids.  One of our students reminded us that kids can make any day special for their parents too.  So, we have created a project where kids can show how thankful they are through their ingenuity, creativity, and a little bit of LEGO.  It inspired other kids to want to participate.

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“I just wanted to share with you my amazing godson Steven Taylor invention for our electronic toothbrushes. Recently we bought electronic toothbrushes but haven’t been able to leave it in the bathroom because there really isn’t a holder for them…He thought it would be helpful for him to build us a holder out of Legos small enough to fit around the sink and also look cool…well without any hesitation he came up with an amazing toothbrush holder in under ten minutes and put little cute details around it like a robot and a flame behind the toothbrush…Amazing..we are so very proud of him and very thankful for his thoughtfulness.

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A child built a LEGO Vacuum Cleaner for his mom for the Thankful Kids LEGO Project.

Here is how kids can do this:

    1. Thank your parents for everything they do.  This can be done throughout the holidays.
    2. Ask your parents how you can help, perhaps by building something they need out of LEGO.
    3. Build the project out of LEGO.
    4. Post it on our Play-Well Facebook Pagetweet it to us, or email it to jeff@play-well.org.

We will share all of the projects that kids make throughout all of November and December in an album and a video that we will share around the country.

Happy Holidays!

Playing Well On Halloween!

This is how we play well on Halloween!

One of our Play-Well Staff created this elaborate setup to give kids candy for Halloween.

LEGO Halloween

One of our Play-Well students and parents were inspired to create a LEGO Halloween Costume.  They definitely went all out for this one:

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