Category Archives: Lego

Our Lego Memories

Too many to mention – our favourite Lego moments.

First lego collage

If our children could pull down the house and rebuild it out of Lego bricks, they would. We have Lego everywhere: under the bed, on shelves, on the landing, occasionally in the washing machine. The two oldest boys are Masters of Spinjitzu, they can quote from the Legends of Chima at great length, they are Lego club members and forever coming up with Cool Creation ideas, spent ages searching for Mr Gold and you know what? We don’t mind – in fact we love it. I’ve just gone back through photos over six years, and pulled out a selection of favourite memories.

The first shot shows our kids’ reaction to snow – “Great, it’s snowing – let’s make a snow cave for the minifigure Eskimos”, and they did. We spent an hour in the garden, in fading light, trying out various shots, including a robber breaking into the cave and stealing a fish, and a police chase across the snow drifts. The photo of the minifigure Inuits cooking their supper remains my favourite.

The next picture shows the boys looking really pleased with themselves after spending a whole day collaborating on building a space launch centre. It was the first time I remember them properly doing it together, rather than the oldest taking over, or both of them doing separate creations – and the smile on their faces shows it.

Finally, who could not be delighted when their six year old comes up with a perfect example of the versatility of Lego, in the form of a giant lion he designed and made himself, that he decided to guard using Ninjas and a Centurion?

So many moments, here’s some more. There’s the first time any of them came up with anything complicated on their own, usually in Duplo:


Then there’s the transition to ‘little Lego’, and the request for us to take a photo each time they build something they’re proud of:

lego collage 3

Or what about the signs of an all-consuming passion for Lego: the trips to Legoland, including spinning round the giant Ninja:

lego collage 4

And I’d forgotten about the birthday cakes. We’ve made a giant Duplo brick with Duplo candle bearers, and a Ninja cake – all requested by the children. Then there’s the sheer randomness of what they come up with – a multi-storey zoo, a large TV set with stalls, a man asleep on top of the stairs, half a man on a skateboard – all followed by the phrase “Daddy, can you take a picture?”. Some of the creations below were made out of Mummy’s Lego from her childhood, still preserved in Granny’s house (Daddy sold his at a boot sale long before children were on the radar, and regrets it now).

lego collage 5

But our most recent favourite memory is of the stop-go animations. Our kids wanted to try making short animated films, and their thoughts immediately turned to Lego. The first attempt was shot using a phone camera, and featured a Lego spaceman flying out of a hole in the ground and landing on a car:

lego collage 6

The second attempt (by which time we’d got a decent camera and software set) was the same spaceman’s encounter with a dinosaur. So before you go and see the new Lego film (trailer below), be sure to check out our latest attempt on you tube!

This post was written by Paul as an entry for the Tots 100 Lego Film Tickets Competition. His children are convinced we will win, and if we don’t he is resigned to buying tickets for the local Odeon screening, and pretending we have….

Lego and Hama Beads

It’s educational carnival time over on Jax’s blog again, and as usual I’m writing this considerably after the eleventh hour.  I hope she’ll let me off, and I can sneak this post in at the last minute.  This month the question is “What do you do when it rains?”  There are lots of indoor activities I could write about if I had plenty of time, but I haven’t so I’m just going to focus on two of our favourites – Lego and Hama Beads.

Lego Halloween

While we’ve been staying at mum’s house over the last few days, the children have been working on this Lego scene.  I think it was mainly made by Owl, but Monkey and Rabbit had some input too.  I love the details – the green slime in the cauldron, and the fire beneath it, made of transparent bricks.

Lego Ghost Train

Owl also made this ghost train, which was very popular with Tiddler.

Lego Car

When we came home today, it wasn’t long before the Lego was out again, and Owl made this car (not from a kit) and fountain.

Hama Beads 1

In the evening, while Rabbit was at Rainbows, Tiddler played with the Hama Beads.  He started to make a Teddy Bear but was not in the mood for finishing it, so I suggested he could sort the beads into different colours.  He liked that idea, until he discovered it was more fun just to put handfuls of beads into all the cups and bowls and then tip them out again!

Hama Beads 2

Then he discovered it was more fun to tip them from a higher up, which was great until he started tipping them on the floor.  Presumably some kind of highly justifiable toddler science experiment about how the height affects the speed.  Or something.

Hama Beads 3

I asked him if he would like to try threading the Hama Beads on pipe cleaners (thanks for the idea Jax!)  He wasn’t that keen (“You do it, mummy!”) until Rabbit came back from Rainbows and made a bracelet, after which he quickly made one for himself.

Hama Beads 4

I suggested to the older three that they might like to make some Autumn-themed pictures.  I made a some leaves (kind of) in Autumn colours to start them off, and explained that it was a tessellating pattern.  I can’t say they were as excited about that as I was, but at least they know what tessellation is now!  Monkey spent a long time carefully making a bonfire.  Owl made a pumpkin, a witch’s hat and a monster.  Rabbit wasn’t interested in the Autumn theme at first so she made a clown, but when she saw Owl’s pumpkin she decided to make one of her own.

Hama Beads 5

These are the finished Hama Bead creations.  And this is where we buy our Hama Beads.  We’ll be needing some more soon, I think, now the weather is getting colder and wetter.

These are our top two indoor activities.  What are yours?

Maths with Lego Education and Twinkl

For this month’s education carnival, Jax has asked for posts about favourite educational resources.   That is such a huge topic that it’s hard to narrow it down.  There are so many resources that I love and use regularly.  Online, there is Twinkl for printable activities, Reading Eggs and other interactive learning programmes, and some great free sites such as Maths is Fun, BBC Bitesize and NASA kids to name but a random few.  Then there are books – fiction and non-fiction.  We have thousands of them, and I wouldn’t know where to start in picking our favourites.  Even if I could, that would definitely be a blog post of its own – or several.  We also have some good text books (Galore Park) that we use as a focal point for certain subjects, and a variety of workbooks which can be useful, though I wouldn’t recommend getting too hung up on them.  There is also a whole world of resources outside the home – museums, parks, National Trust properties, castles, beaches, woods, farms, libraries, sports clubs, home education groups and in our local area an ecology centre and lavender fields.

So I thought about all that for a while, then I started thinking about the subject-specific learning resources we have at home.  Our house is overflowing with art and craft materials and kits.  We have Mr Maker-style doodle drawers for paint, brushes, pots, collage materials, recyclable materials for models and so on.  Then we have several large boxes of Hama beads (Maxi and Midi) – we get ours from Craft Merrily.  We have Science kits, magnifying glasses, a microscope, bulbs, wires and buzzers, torches and magnets.  Then there are magnetic letters, letter tiles, flash cards, and games like Banangrams and Scrabble.  Maths is the subject for which we probably have the most specific resources.  We have magnetic numbers, number tiles, number templates, Maths card games and board games, Multilink cubes, base 10 materials, Cuisenaire rods, number fans, fraction magnets, counters, dominoes and dice.  It was really hard to choose what to write about, so I used the random selection method of picking the most recent photographs of educational resources in use – and here they are.

Lego Education

This is a Lego Education set (which we found on eBay) of number tiles, operation tiles and blank tiles and two white base boards.  They are also compatible with our two large Duplo base boards as well, which is very useful with four children.  We have used coloured stickers on the blank tiles so they can be used for matching and sorting activities.

Last week we got the set out for the first time in a while, and I gave it to the children without any instructions just to see what they would come up with.  I really enjoyed seeing the variety of ideas they had.  Owl and Monkey made lots of sums, using the four operations and the less than and more than symbols, then combined some of them to make a number crossword.  Owl then ordered the tiles from 0-9, started at 0 again and repeated the sequence over several times, and then observed the patterns of numbers reading down the columns.  Meanwhile Rabbit made a few sums but spent most of her time using the tiles with the coloured stickers on.  She sorted them by colour and then by number, and then matched the number tiles 1-6 to the corresponding sets.  She also used them to make pictures (a robot made out of a box, and an aeroplane!)

All of that was without any input from me, apart from explaining the less than and more than symbols to Monkey.  The next time we use them, I might add in a few suggestions of my own but I wanted to see what they came up with first.  These are some of my ideas:

  • Print off some Number Digit Cards from twinkl and use them as target numbers for the children to make sums using the letter tiles.
  • Use Duplo bricks and build towers, then place the number tile on top, or next to it, corresponding to how many bricks have been used.
  • Also with Duplo bricks, make towers of two colours (e.g. three red and seven green) and then use the tiles to write the sum (3+7=10) to practise number bonds.
  • Give the children a selection of number tiles to order, then follow up with a Number Ordering activity from twinkl.
  • Sort small objects (Hama beads, Lego bricks, Multilink Cubes, counters) into sets to match each number.
  • Use the tiles (and possibly bricks as well) to make bar charts.
  • Leave the boards lying around with some sums on and see who chooses to answer them!

Any more ideas welcome 🙂

Stargazing Live

Stargazing 2 Stargazing 3

This post is written by Owl.

On Saturday 12th January, we went to Oxford.  We had lunch in Cafe Rouge, and then we went to Stargazing Live in the Physics Department of Oxford University.  When we went in, we were given a card with a picture and some information on it, and there were 19 cards to collect at the different sections of the exhibition.  Then we went to the Hands-On room and daddy pointed out a robot which was on a wooden table with a galaxy projected onto it.  When I looked more closely, I realised it was a Lego Mindstorms robot, controlled by a computer.  I had to use the arrow keys to move the robot over the galaxy, and when it was in the right position it projected a star into one of the holes in the raised edge of the table.  Next we tried an activity where you had to move coins around on a piece of paper, and they showed up on a computer screen which was divided into two parts.  On one half you could see your coins, and on the other half a picture of a galaxy based on the position of the coins.

Then we went to the Science cafe to build a virtual Lego universe, which was our favourite activity last year.  You use different coloured bricks to represent quarks.  Yellow bricks are up quarks and red bricks are down quarks.  I put some red and yellow bricks together to make neutrons and protons.  Then I put two neutrons and two protons together in a square shape to make Helium 4.  Monkey and I built towers which were stacks of Helium 4.

The Lego activity took quite a long time and the little ones were getting restless, so we took a break.  We went down to the Astro Crafts room and made spectrometers out of cereal boxes and CDs, and a model of a planetarium which showed the distance of each planet from the sun.  After that, we returned to the Science cafe to finish the Lego towers.  We also watched a demonstration of how to make a meteor, and I crushed some dry ice (made from Carbon Dioxide) with a hammer.  We ended the afternoon with some sandwiches, chocolate cake and juice for supper, before setting off on the journey home.

Legoland on a weekday

Last week, our day out to London for the Select Committee hearing interfered with our plans to go to Legoland with a group of home educators.  We were sorry to miss the chance to go with them, but fortunately we were able to go this Tuesday instead, having managed to buy tickets on Ebay for under £40 for all of us.

When we arrived we took the Hill Train down to the main park, and headed straight to Fire Academy.  The big boys had wanted to do this last year, but they would have had to wait for an hour, whereas this time there was only a short queue.  Owl then had a turn in the driving school, which he really enjoyed.  After that they all played in the Duplo playground, and we ate our packed lunch there.  It is a lovely play area for little ones and interesting enough to satisfy older siblings too.

After a walk through Miniland, our next stop was Build and Test, which they loved the first time we went to Legoland three years ago.  Last year it was closed and the children were very disappointed, so there was much relief all round when it was open this time.  It has three adjoining rooms with activities suitable for different ages, and we spent a long time in there.  In one room there is big Lego of two types.  One I think is called Quatro, and we have some of it at home.  The other type is the really big soft Lego bricks that are big enough to build a house that the children can go in.  We love it and Legoland is one of only three places we have come across it.  Another room contains ramps and you can make cars and then test them, learning about friction, and working out why some designs work better than others.  The third room has earthquake tables where you can build a structure and test how strong it is.


Rabbit’s big Lego creations

While the others continued to play in Build and Test, Owl and I went to the Discovery centre next door, where you can build Lego education kits, including some with lights and motors.  After a while the others joined us there, and by the time they had finished, they had made the cool car, the puppet show, and two carousels, one with small Lego and one with Duplo.  It was lovely to be there when it was so quiet.  There was plenty of space to build the kits and time to ask for help.

The Cool Cars kit (made by Owl)

Duplo carousel (made by Rabbit; Tiddler had a go as well)

Small Lego carousel (made by Monkey)

Next, Suburban dad took Rabbit and Tiddler on the Sky Rider (cars on an aerial track) and then I took Tiddler back to Miniland, where we spent a very long time watching trains.  I had almost forgotten how easy it is to entertain two year old boys with trains – we could have spent all day there.    Monkey and Rabbit went on the Sky Rider twice while Owl watched a 4D film – Lego Racers, and then all three of them (and daddy) watched another one, the Lego City one which they particularly wanted to see.

We all met up again in the Duplo playground, and played for a while, then bought an ice cream to eat on the way to the Atlantis submarine voyage.  This was one of the rides Owl wanted to do this time having read about it since our last visit.  I wasn’t that keen, as I don’t like confined spaces, but I did it and it really was quite good.  The submarine goes through an aquarium with sharks, rays and a variety of sea creatures, as well as some Lego models of fish which the children loved.  Afterwards, some of them (especially Rabbit) had fun sticking their hands in a tank to touch shrimp and hermit crabs.

Suburban Dad took Owl and Rabbit on a boat ride in the Boating school, and then we went back to the driving school again, as Monkey was now feeling confident enough to have a go, and Owl wanted to go back for more.  Rabbit had several goes on the smaller cars for “Learner drivers”, enjoying the chance to keep going on again as there were no queues.  Monkey had also been unsure about the boats, but finally decided he would like to go on one with daddy and Tiddler, while Owl and Rabbit carried on driving their cars.  That kept them happily occupied until 5pm when the rides closed, and we took the Hill Train back up to the top.  We had supper in the restaurant, had the inevitable visit to the shop and set off home with four very tired and very happy children.

We made a little detour on the way back, to visit friends who live near Legoland, and to celebrate their daughter’s first birthday with them.  They also have a four year old boy, and the children had a lovely time playing together, and eating birthday cake, while the adults enjoyed the chance to catch up, albeit briefly.

It was a lovely day, and we really felt lucky to be making the most of one of the many benefits of home education – the chance to visit attractions when they are quiet.  One of the staff told us that two weeks ago, they had their fourth busiest day ever, with 23,500 visitors, whereas on the day we went there were just 3000 visitors.  The weather was perfect, sunny and warm, but not hot, and it really is a lovely place, especially without the crowds.  I know the weather is a matter of luck, but on the whole I think there isn’t a much better time to visit Legoland than on a weekday in September, and I hope we will be able to do the same next year.

Lego museum plans

This is a guest post by Owl – the first of many, I hope.

My new Lego creation is going to be a museum room, called room 11.  It will be a medieval themed room.  It will have:

  • a star-shaped fort
  • a star-shaped information board about the fort
  • an old portrait of a knight’s head
  • a suit of armour on a pole
  • a table laid for a feast with a golden goblet
  • a statue of a horse
  • information about drawbridges
  • a toy drawbridge to play with

If I can manage it, I will make the museum with an opening front so that you can see the things inside.  Of course, this is only one room.  I will be making some more rooms later.