Lego and Duplo may not strike you as an obvious educational toy - I know most kids certainly don't see it that way! But, children who play with the Lego ranges can benefit from cognitive, linguistic, physical and social/emotional boosts that can actually help them develop faster and learn while they are having fun!
My boys love their Duplo! It's the item that gets played with the most - and despite the mess it can make on my lounge room floor, I greatly encourage it! Not only is is highly educational but it is great for building fine motor skills and social skills such as sharing and team work.
Duplo is part of the Lego brand and is specifically created for little hands (ages 18months to 5years). Like Lego, you can buy Duplo sets (we own the Number Train, construction site, Disney Planes & Disney Planes Fire & Rescue sets, farm & zoo sets) but children can build various structures by either referring to the easy-to-follow instructions included with the Duplo set, or let their imaginations run wild and mix and match pieces to create their own masterpiece.
Lego Duplo bricks are made from non-toxic material making them safe for toddlers, even if they chomp on the bricks!! The bricks are also large, so young toddlers can easily hold the toys in their hands and connect them easily. They come in a variety of bright colours and shapes to grab the attention of children and stimulate their minds.
Colour, size and shape recognition: Young children who play with early Lego Duplo can use it to learn and identify the differences between colours, sizes and shape. It can also be used to teach basic counting skills.
Hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills: Toddlers who want to pick up a certain Duplo brick and put it on top of another one will start to develop their hand-eye coordination awareness in a practical way. Continued use can also help promote their fine motor skills and build up the strength in their fingers, hands & forearms. These can be further developed as children get older and move into the regular Lego ranges as smaller bricks help them hone their abilities to choose, pick up, control, place and manipulate smaller objects (this links directly to handwriting as children work to move from the palmer-grip to the pincer-grip).
Language skills: Of course Lego Duplo, in itself, can't teach kids to talk. But, if they are playing with adults or even with their peers in a social setting you may see some significant developments. Basic construction can help younger children learn the practical use of key prepositions such as 'on', 'under', 'in' and 'above' and can help them start to negotiate the verbal world of size and shape. They will learn to listen to instructions and commands and, as they get older, to express these concepts themselves. Children who make up Lego in kit form can also get a literacy boost - they want to build the model in the box, they will have to follow the instructions! (The visual instructions are great for those students who need visual aids to complete tasks, and this can also be used as a form of assessment).
Spatial awareness: Playing with blocks and objects in the Lego Duplo range is often one of the first practical experiences a child has of manipulating and using three-dimensional objects. This can help develop spatial and form awareness.
Logic and problem solving skills: Put a few pieces of Lego Duplo together (either as a loose collection or as a specific kit) and you have a puzzle that needs to be solved. Children can learn to follow steps and stages in a logical order via formal instruction sheets that come with a kit or can use free-flow problem solving if they are building their own creations. Lego can actually give a good basic introduction to maths, engineering and construction principles through natural play.
Imaginative/creative play: Children may follow kit instructions to make up models, but many will also use their bricks to make their own creations - Master L is obsessed with Disney Planes Fire & Rescue at the moment so really enjoys making a fire & rescue centre and buildings that catch on fire for Blade & Dusty to extinguish. I really enjoy watching him play, and playing with the boys as this type of play encourages creativity and fosters their use of imagination.
Sharing and collaborative play: Something that all parents want their children to master is sharing & collaborative play! Lego Duple can entertain a single child, sometimes for a few hours at a time! Yet it can also be a good way of helping children, be it siblings or class/play mates learn how to play together. Playing with Lego Duplo can encourage them to work as a team, to share and to collaborate on how to make bricks do what they want them to do. Lego Duplo appeals to all ages so is also a fantastic way for a family to spend time together.
Self-worth and achievement: I love seeing either boys face when they've created something using the Lego Duplo blocks - I might not know what it is but they do, and they single-handedly built it! Children who build kits or create their own constructions will have gone through a type of problem-solving process at their own pace. Making something helps them feel good about themselves and promotes a feeling of self-worth and independence.
I have just as much fun building and creating as the boys! Let your children play and create with Lego, secretly knowing that they're learning whilst playing!
***This post is not sponsored. I simply like the Lego Duplo products range and want to share the benefits of them with you.