Our Montessori students were very excited for their guest lecture today as it was all about Lego Education.  Relatively new in Ireland  Lego Education is really big in Japan and the US and is a great way for children to learn through a fun and innovative curriculum using Lego pieces.

Pauline Walsh, a tutor at Portobello Institute and owner of Little Ruggers Pre-school is a strong believer of this method having introduced it into her own school a few years back.  "The idea of getting children to use the materials to aid their learning encourages their imagination, problem solving, creativity and much more" says Pauline.  There is also a part of self well-being felt by the children as they see result of that they have created.  Through time children further develop both their motor and finer skills.

Traditional Lego bricks are used in class to solve problems and children begin to excel at working together and thinking critically.  By working this way they develop their understanding and ability to retain knowledge of key curriculum concepts.

On the day Pauline broke the class into groups of two and gave them a project of building a bridge with the Lego pieces.  Pauline explained that each exercise is broken down into the four C's - Connect, Construction, Contemplate, Continue.

A project such as this would be given to children firstly through a  story - Sara and Jack need to cross from one side of the river to the other but how do they get there? Then once the children have established how to solve the problem they must set about constructing the solution, in this case building a bridge with Lego. The teacher would quickly inform the children that the bridge must be a certain length and a certain height, thus introducing Maths into the session.  In a Montessori classroom the children can use the long rods to measure length and height and find a suitable method of construction.  The next stage after construction would be to contemplate and discuss with the children how and why they build the bridge that way and then continue to check the durability of the construction.

The project Pauline gave our Montessori students would encourage children to use their imagination and each construction would differ as to what their interpretation of the brief would be.  Similarly each of the different groups who were all given identical boxes of lego on the day at the workshop set about constructing very different bridges.

Other projects were more literal and the groups were presented with lego instructions to make a spinning wheel.  In a classroom environment this would encourage lateral thinking and engineering skills using the finer motor skills and aid in developing the childrens pincer grip.

This form of education is still new to Ireland but it provides a fantastic platform for creative 3D learning.  Learn It are actively visiting both pre-school and primary schools around the country and the response so far has been positive and encouraging.  Our Montessori students really enjoyed the session and were keen to trial further projects to learn more about this creative learning method.

To find out more about Lego Education go to www.learnit.ie/legoeducation