What you need to know. Gone are the days when telephones were large hand-held devices…
All kids love playing with ‘blocks’ or bricks – and it’s this love for creating, building, changing and re-creating that’s behind BRICKS 4 KIDZ® – an Educational Play program, new to Canberra, that uses Lego® and Duplo® as an educational resource.
“Building and playing with Lego® and Duplo® is not only fun, but educational,” says owner of BRICKS 4 KIDZ Northside, Sally Gibson.
“It assists children to engage their curiosity and creativity, as well develop problem solving skills. Both the left and right sides of the brain are used, to develop critical thinking and spatial awareness skills.”
I know a number of ‘bricks’ fanatics, so we sent kids of a range of different ages along to BRICKS 4 KIDZ® to ‘road test’ the sessions.
Bricks 4 Totz (Colours, Numbers, Music & Play)
For two to three year-olds
We sent two year-old Miss Millie along to Bricks 4 Totz, which involves 50 minutes of fun, structured activities following the same basic format each week so the children quickly become familiar with the session’s routine. As you can see from the photos, there was a whole heap of fun with bubbles and pigs and more!
Manager of BRICKS 4 KIDZ Northside, Tish Deeble, says the class consists of a selection of different songs each week involving the use of props, instruments and music.
“We then focus on a particular developmental skill incorporated in a short activity e.g. colour, number, shape, gross motor, fine motor where the children can actively participate.
“This often requires the children to wait for their turn at a task; this turn taking is an important part of the skill development targeted by the program as well as following basic instructions to complete tasks.”
The Duplo® component for this class is a small part of the program and used as a concept tool for learning – colours, numbers, building skills.
“Each week the children learn a new letter and we do a short but fun activity using the Letterland Phonic System. The children love this part of the session and are very receptive to learning basic sounds and the fun characters Letterland attributes to each letter of the alphabet,” says Tish.
“The aim is for the children (and parents) to have fun, learn some important basic development skills and have an opportunity to interact with other children/families!”
The Parent and Toddler classes run from 9:15 to 10:05am each Wednesday. $195 for a 10-week school term, however, children can join a group at any time during the term.
Preschool Program (Alphabet Fun)
For three to five year-olds
Lego® Master, five year-old Alex put the Preschool Program through its paces. Now, this is a kid who can spend hours and hours not only following the instructions to make the latest Lego Ninjago and make hybrid heli-plane-cars from all sorts of bits and pieces, so he was clear that he would have liked MORE Lego®.
During his 2.5 hour class, he enjoyed free time with Duplo® bricks where he could make his own models, listened to a story about the letter G, did a painting of a giraffe, made a Lego Duplo giraffe and had some ball fun. Not surprisingly, making the Duplo® giraffe was Alex’s favourite part.
“The program is quite structured with a fun, educational and nurturing format, involving music, dramatic play and movement, story time, and group activities and games which encourage letter, number, colour and shape recognition,” says Tish.
“One of the most important skills that the children learn is simply how to be part of a group. Learning how to interact, share, wait for a turn etc are all valuable school-readiness skills.”
The sessions are parent-free (go enjoy your two hours of ‘me’ time!).
The Preschool Program runs from 10:15 to 12:45pm each Wednesday. $380 for a 10-week school term, however, children can join a group at any time during the term.
After School Workshops
For five to 13 year-olds
My girls, Olivia (nearly-nine) and Sophia (nearly-seven) were only too happy to be the guinea pigs for the Early Engineers (Ages 5+) and Advancing Engineers (Ages 8+) session. I am actually considering building a separate room for the amount of Lego® Friends bricks we have.
The After School Workshops run for one hour and are theme-based – the model for the girls’ session was Monkeys from the theme “Amazing Animals!” They were given a kit and model plan (which they could choose to tackle individually or in pairs) to work with.
“The models are intended to be manageable yet challenging and there are two staff on hand to support the children when and where needed,” says Tish.
“For the older and more capable children there is always the option to build a more advanced model of the theme build each week. I try to assess over a few weeks where a child’s ability level is at to minimise frustration yet ensure they feel adequately challenged.”
The girls came home bubbling with excitement and full of talk about the ‘older boy who made his monkey move with robotics’.
“Many of the models use battery run motors to facilitate movement of the model – the children love the motors and what they bring to a build,” Tish remarks.
It may seem like the kids are just having a whole heap of fun, but the program is actually enhancing many skills without them even realising – fine motor skills, language skills, social skills, co-operative skills, problem-solving skills, time management skills and basic persistence.
“I think sometimes the best kind of learning is that which is done without our knowing it!” says Tish.
The After School Program runs from 4 to 5pm each Wednesday. $195 for a 10-week school term, however, children can join a group at any time during the term.
Where: Palmerston Hall, Tiptree Crescent, Palmerston (next to the shops).
When: See times above.
Costs: See costs above.
Enrol: Online via the Bricks4Kidz Northside, ACT website.
Call: Tish on 0449 628 011.
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