Building with Legos

When I told my fiancée I was taking our son Dempsey to “play” with Legos at the Lego Builders Club at the Sturgeon Bay Library, he replied, “Don’t call it playing, it’s building with Legos.”

Noted: we were going to build – or seriously play – with Legos. This idea of serious building was confirmed when Dempsey and I went down to the library’s basement on July 12. Scattered on the floor were tubs of Lego pieces (nearly 8,000 pieces, by Youth Services Librarian Beth Lokken’s count), and 10 children completely concentrated on their creations and finding appropriate pieces. There was almost no noise; these kids were the epitome of concentration.

As a three-year-old, Dempsey was one of the youngest there, but he shyly dug into a tub and started to build. He was often sidetracked by watching the older kids build multi-wheeled, multi-operational creations. One boy even came over and offered to help Dempsey, but as soon as he did the time was up.

After an hour, one of Lokken’s volunteers said it was time to go and told the kids to bring their finished creations upstairs to be put on display in the library. And before leaving, every child got to choose a Lego crayon that Lokken makes for club participants to take home.

The Lego Builders Club began 18 months ago, and has seen strong participation numbers ever since. On July 12, when Dempsey and I went, there were 10 kids, and according to Lokken that’s a low number. She said, “Usually there are between 12 to 20 kids. When the weather outside is frightful, we get more people. It’s an alternative to being at home and inside.”

When asked about the most memorable creation, Lokken said, “They’re all inventive in their own way. One of my favorites didn’t make it into the display case. It was a joint project; four to five kids built and sank the Titanic. It was very elaborate – they built the iceberg, too, and crashed the Titanic to pieces.”

Group creativity is one of the most positive aspects of the club, in addition to being just plain fun. “I played with Legos when I was a kid,” she said. “It was a solitary thing and no one saw the outcome. By making this a group project, it fosters group creativity and the sharing of ideas. Little people should find a place to ‘free create’ with others. It’s good we can do that.”

Dempsey has already asked if we can go back to the Lego club, and each time I’ll be excited to see what he can create.

Lego Builders Club is held year round on the first Saturday of the month, unless otherwise posted, from 1 – 2 pm at the Sturgeon Bay Library. The majority of the children who participate are in kindergarten through third grade, but younger and older children are welcome.