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How to Inspire Kids to Think Creatively About Design

Use LEGO Classics set to teach children to think creatively about design.

Teach design and creativity with LEGO Classic

I want to teach my children how to think independently and problem solve. As the wife of a computer scientist, I see just how much automation is becoming part of everyday life. Artificial intelligence is creating machines that complete incredibly challenging tasks. Here in California’s Silicon Valley, for example, I see self-driving cars on a daily basis. There remains one area of intelligence that is uniquely human: the ability to think creatively, out of the box, in order to solve problems. How can we inspire kids to think creatively about design in order to solve problems? In our house, it starts with LEGO® Classic.

How to inspire kids to think creatively about design and problem solving
How to Inspire Kids to Think Creatively About Design

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we are a family of LEGO fans. My kids save up money to buy LEGO sets. Mike and I build LEGO sets together as at-home dates. LEGO minifigures feature heavily  in my children’s stop motion videos. The defined sets are awesome for discovering new ways to build with LEGO bricks, and there is something incredibly satisfying about the way the pieces snap together perfectly, exactly as shown in the instructions.

Using LEGO Classic to Inspire Creative Thinking About Design

Do you want to challenge your kids to think creatively about design? Pull out a bin of LEGO Classic bricks. This simple creative thinking activity was one of the first things we did after returning from Scotland. Getting creative is a fabulous way to soothe jet-lagged kids!

LEGO Classic Designs

Here are a few favorites of the many designs my kid came up with.

Creative thinking and storytelling with LEGO Classic

Our LEGO Classic set includes several of these silly round eye blocks. My kids used them to build robots. We had seen several robots at my children’s favorite museum in Scotland. Robots are also very popular in our house, because Mike works with them as part of his job. The kids put a lot of thought into function as they designed these machines. The robot on the left designed by ten-year-old Emma makes fire, “kind of like an oven”. The one on the right is an electricity robot that flies, like a drone.

Creative Storytelling with LEGO Classic

Have you tried the LEGO classic sets? They are AWESOME for getting kids to think creatively!

The robots my children build come with strong personalities that inspire all sorts of storytelling. Eight-year-old Johnny built the mother and baby robot set. His baby robot even has a little baby robot bed.

My kids love the idea of houses on wheels for traveling around the world. You take the roof off of this moving house created by Emma at night to reveal a bed, table, plant, and water faucet.

Want to raise independent problem solvers? Hand them a set of LEGO Classic bricks and see what they create!

Six-year-old Lily’s moving house includes a pet bird and a a puppy.

Pro Tips for Getting Creative with LEGO Classic

LEGO Systems recently paired up with the world-renowned improv group, The Upright Citizens Brigade, to show just how fun it can be to use bricks for fun, inspirational out-of-the-box thinking. We watched this resulting video before starting our building session for this post. The kids LOVED the creativity of these actors, and it definitely inspired them to see the sky as the limit with their designs. LEGO Master Builders and the Upright Citizens Brigade Experts have some tips on how to have a fun family improv activity at home:

Warm Up to Building

Start by building a tower. Your tower can be any height or width, but you have to start and end with your favorite color? Why? Building is intuitive. A sure-fire way to unlock your creativity is to just start clicking bricks together. Giving yourself a simple exercise with one or two guidelines is an easy way to get started.

Build Your World

Pick something you can see to build with bricks. Don’t get caught up on details. Focus on the general shape or color and add one distinguishing detail. You can see this happening with Lily’s dog. The colors aren’t realistic, but the shape of the brick she picked for the head is reminiscent of a dog’s head.

The Bricks Tell a Story

Ask yourself a question and build the answer. LEGO Master Builders and the Upright Citizens Brigade Experts recommend starting with something simple, like “What’s my favorite day of the week”. Then build what Thursday looks like to you. Share the story out loud – even if you are by yourself. Why? Snapping bricks together helps us come to decisions and formulate ideas faster and more clearly. You’ll find if you set out to build an answer to a question that the building flows easily and you’ll amaze yourself with your skills and insights.

What will you build?

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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

8 thoughts on “How to Inspire Kids to Think Creatively About Design”

  1. This is great! I’ve been doing a series lately on critical thinking and creative problem solving with our staff (who are adults). It’s amazing how many people don’t know how to use critical thinking or problem solving skills. I think I might have to do a LEGO activity with them!

  2. I also prefer it when my son deconstructs the lego sets to built what he envisions versus following the guide but he always builds it to spec first and then when he finally takes it apart, he creates.

  3. Natalie PlanetSmarty (@PlanetSmarty)

    LEGO is amazing. I wish my daughter would pull it out more often. She builds sort of in spurts. I suspect it’s because she hates to clean up later.

    1. I keep hoping they will start selling Tuff Spots in the US, because they look like the perfect surface to dump out LEGO bricks on.

  4. Elisa | blissfule

    My kids love Lego, too, though we stick with Duplo for safety with young ones around. They build tons of houses on wheels, always with a story. They often also hum while they work, and their humming together is so soothing.

    1. So sweet! We don’t have to worry about choking here anymore, but the DUPLO bricks still see a lot of playtime. I love the image of your children humming while playing together.

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