The Secret Tool for ‘Building’ Creativity

The following is a guest post written by art education advocate Charlie Schofield.

There are a lot of things that I remember doing as a small boy whenever I teach inside my third grade classroom. Growing without any siblings in downtown London, I found company in my toys – my Batman action figures, those little green Army men, a cabbage patch kid that I cleverly named ‘Veggie.’ My favorite was Michelangelo Etch-a-sketch, which I used every afternoon to draw Veggie’s clumsy face. That was the beginning of my love affair with the arts.

I regret one thing though. I quite distinctly remember a small box right behind my Etch-a-sketch masterpieces. If only I played with the contents of that small box before, I would’ve been this generation’s Michelangelo by now. That’s an exaggeration of course. But it is a valid hypothesis I presume. Fast forward two decades, I am new putting that theory into practice. What’s that super amazing creative toy inside the small box I failed to utilize?

Lego.

Illustration 1: This is a Lego version of Stonehenge. Photo courtesy of LeoLondon

Illustration 1: This is a Lego version of Stonehenge. Photo courtesy of LeoLondon

Let me give you three reasons why I think this toy is a great creative tool for art teachers.

Lego teaches kids to use their hands.

It seems like moving your hands and using them for different purposes isn’t necessarily a skill that needs to be taught. But you’d be surprised. It’s more than just common sense; motion and cognitive cognition is more closely linked than you thought. By exercising kid’s physical movements, especially in the hand and arm area, they are simultaneously activating the right side of their brain – image perception, intuition, and music adeptness. Stacking Legos doesn’t merely exercise the hand muscles, but also subconsciously enhances creativity.

Lego teaches kids to imagine.

We can all agree that grand creations start from little things. Here is a fine example of what a kid can do with Lego blocks.

Try and do this little exercise that I do with my students. Have them create something out of a limited number of Legos. Watch how these kids use their imagination to build something out of six, five, or eight blocks. This is great to ignite the childrens’ passion for building and creation. Who knows, these tots might be the future engineers, sculptors, and landscape architects of the future?

Even further, integrating the creative process with new media is a great way to boost the kids’ imagination. If you’ve been reading this blog before, then you know that there is an app for everything. Lego is no exception, and you can download apps made by the Lego group in the Google play app store.

Some of my personal favorites for the purposes of art education are:

Let the kids’ imagination run free with these great games.

Lego teaches kids that the box does not exist.

Illustration 2: Photo courtesy of eilonwy777.

Illustration 2: Photo courtesy of eilonwy777.

Imagine a bag of small blocks of Lego scattered all over the floor. This is chaos, and the process of making a defined structure with all of the fallen pieces – that is order. What’s great about Lego is that kids are trained to create order in any direction that they choose. There is no best way to create a Lego fortress. There is no proper sequence of blocks for a cool alien ship. There is no limit to how high a tower should be. There is no box. Lego teaches us that there are a million things that we can do, and a million more ways to do it.

You can find Lego as art events all over the world. You can find a listing of such cool events here, including Lego summer camps!

About the author: Charlie Schofield is a tech writer for Techie Doodlers, geek dad, and educator. He is currently traveling Southeast Asia as part of an edTech campaign to teach kids about the wonders of technology. He is a painter and a supporter of education drives such as Lowe’s and Verizon.

2 Comments

  • November 5, 2013

    Diane Driessen

    If Lego truly teaches “creativity” why does it market “kits” that are no more than build by number activities. Once you put together the kit, that costs $100. plus dollars are you then too deconstruct it and throw the pieces into a pile and have them valued at the $10. worth of plastic that they are? Is creativity all a money making-marketing ploy?
    Give a child cardboard boxes and see creativity.

  • Hillary Andrlik + Theresa McGee
    November 5, 2013

    Theresa McGee

    Excellent points Diane. You’re right – children can be creative using only cardboard and certainly don’t need $100 worth of Legos. However, as a parent, I am certainly guilty of buying lots of lego kits for my son. The one thing I do notice is that my son is motivated to build these Lego kits, follow directions and problem solve when something doesn’t work. I guess I see my son’s problem solving as a form of creativity – maybe not at the highest level, but he was thinking and evaluating his work. And the pile of legos that are now worth $10 have been used to create some pretty cool constructions – making it worth it in the end.

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