Why would we want to get back to basics with LEGO?
I’ll tell you why. Because of nostalgia.
Let me tell you a little story …
I grew up playing with LEGO. My dad had this huge (well, huge to us) collection of LEGO blocks from his childhood days that my sister and I got to play with. We always did the same thing: we built houses and made a village. Once we were finished, we played with our small world for a little while, making our little LEGO people go about their day. Then we broke it down and started building another village.
We did this over and over and over again. For years and years and years.
I have such precious memories of my sister and I working side by side designing the most amazing mini houses. Being so proud of each and every creation. If I close my eyes I can see us sitting there. I remember the details, that big wooden box in which we sorted the colours, the figurines, the windows, roof shingles. And I remember the fights over the one nice black matchbox car we had that got to live in our LEGO garage.
As a parent, I want to provide my children with awesome memories of family moments. I want them to have a similar feeling of joy, warmth and pure nostalgia when one day they look back at their own childhood days. Since LEGO has been such a big part of my life growing up (we didn’t have so many toys back then!), I couldn’t wait to introduce LEGO to my daughter.
This post is about our journey and my realisation of how much has changed over the years!
Our Journey of getting back to basics with Lego
It was Santa who brought my four year old girl her first LEGO set: the Lego Friends Jungle Rescue Base.
Then one day, she was playing with her LEGO and got really frustrated because she couldn’t put her castle back together as it should be. No amount of explaining or encouragement could help her see that the beauty of LEGO is that you can build anything you want.
No. She firmly pointed at the box she had kept. Tears running down her beautiful little face. “This is what it has to look like mommy!!!”
I got it. There and then.
LEGO for her in that moment was this frustrating version of Playmobil. A beautiful small world set up, designed to foster imagination, to play out your own jungle adventures or princess dreams. It was not made for creating your own thing. Obviously.
I realised my daughter didn’t yet know LEGO as I knew it and loved it. And while I appreciate the cleverness and purpose of these LEGO sets, I felt I needed to show her LEGO at it’s best: a collection of simple blocks with a blank plate, waiting for you to create just about anything.
We needed to get back to basics with LEGO.
I did the unthinkable. I broke down every single LEGO set we had. No two pieces were left joined together. It was very painful, the perfectionist and LEGO geek in me were hurting. My 4 year old daughter was staring at me in disbelief.
Then we sat down. And I started building. Randomly putting things together.
“What are you making?” my girl asked.
“Hmm, I’m not sure yet. What are you going to make?” I replied.
“A house. And you’re not allowed to use the pink and purple blocks. I’ll be needing those”, she said.
And I smiled. My daughter worked on her house for over an hour, carefully constructing every single item with a running commentary that would surely become a You Tube hit had I recorded it.
She was so very proud of herself. She beamed. I wished I could frame the moment.
The Power of the Humble Lego Block
When I walk into any given toy store in the world today, there’s a chance that I’ll feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of options presented to me. It will also be painfully obvious that I’m from a different generation because I don’t know what half of the sets are about.
Today I want to quietly remind you of those oh so precious boxes of classic LEGO that might be tucked away in a corner somewhere.
While we love the design of the skilfully created small world sets, we shouldn’t forget about the beauty and power of unstructured play with a simple box of LEGO.
Playing with loose parts fosters creativity, grows the imaginations, builds resilience, teaches problem solving and so much more.
As my own daughter showed me this week, there’s nothing like the sense of achievement, the boost of self confidence and pride of one’s own creation, whatever that may be, that makes a child stand tall and their eyes sparkle.
Are you up for the challenge?
Will you be brave today and put aside your LEGO sets in favour of open ended play? Or will you give your children a classic LEGO box instead of the newest set this year?
How do you feel about the dramatic changes in the world of LEGO over the past 20 years? What do you think has improved and what would you like to see make a comeback?
Loved this post? You can pin it here!