I’m about to whip out a fancy quote, but don’t let it fool you, this post is about playing with DUPLO® products. As a retired high school inclusion teacher where I worked mostly in science and history classrooms, this quote really rings a bell.
The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking. —Albert Einstein
For example, we can’t expect students to understand the concept of volume if they don’t understand liquid and measurement. And reciting a memorized definition is one thing, but really understanding the concept is another. As a teacher I felt like most kids are taught to memorize definitions and formulas, but have a hard time describing things in their own words. As a mom, I want to give my kids the basic skills to be investigators of the world. In technical terms, I want the scientific method to be part of their everyday thinking. I want my kids to observe, ask questions, describe, predict, provide explanations, and communicate ideas with others.
I want to train my kids to think.
How to train your kids to think with DUPLO bricks:
I’m also a big believer in learning through play. After all, play is how young children learn about the world. Max gets out the DUPLO bricks because he enjoys building towers and then asks me to “play” with him. I try to be intentional with our playtime. For example, if he builds a really tall tower, I might build a few short ones. And then ask:
- Which tower is the tallest?
- Which one is the shortest?
- Can you put these in order from shortest to tallest?
I talk about concepts like observation and classification while we play. It’s also fair to note, that I don’t just do this with DUPLO bricks, talking about similarities and differences is something we do with rocks, cars, machines, food, you name it! We observe the world around us on a daily basis. We ask a lot of questions about everything.
Sometimes we play the “I build, you build” game. In a perfect world, our conversation might go something like this:
Me: Max, can you build a tower like Mommy?
Max: Yes! (Builds the same tower.)
Me: How are these towers the same?
Max: Yellow, yellow, blue orange.
Me: What if we put them together?
Max: (Clicks them together.) It’s tall, Mommy!
Me: Yes, it’s twice as tall as before. Nice work, Max! I like the pattern you made. What color do you think comes next?
Max: (Picks up a yellow brick.)
As long as he continues to play along, I keep asking questions. This might last 30 seconds or 8 minutes. Again, I let him lead.
I might make a letter out of DUPLO bricks and ask Max about the letter. For example:
- What words start with M?
- What sound does M make?
- What letter comes after M?
- Can you build an M like Mommy?
- What colors are in this M?
- How many DUPLO bricks are in the M?
If he’s into “playing letters”, I’ll ask him what letter we should build next. And then ask him questions about that letter. You can do the same thing with shapes and numbers too.
Here are some other fun ideas I have introduced do with DUPLO bricks:
- Imagination play (Building houses, bridges, roads, rockets, etc…)
- Sort bricks into colors
- Count with bricks
- Color match bricks to other objects in the room
- Sink vs. float (DUPLO bricks in the bathtub and introduce predicting!)
- Less than vs more than
- Measurement (How many DUPLO bricks tall is my foot?)
- Stability (Which tower is stronger?)
- Imprints (With paint or play dough)
I love that Max loves DUPLO bricks. I really hope Mila loves them too. They are twice the size of standard LEGO bricks, making them a safe way to kick off any kiddos building career. Are you intentional with training your kids to think? I’d love to hear…
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.