Creative Independent Play for early elementary age children can be challenging. Finding toys that help foster confidence and independence during playtime is a real blessing. Thank you for supporting brands that I believe in that help make Comfortably Domestic possible.
As a mom, I’ve always tried to foster a sense of independence with my boys at an early age. I’m continually amazed at how mastering even the smallest tasks independently can do to build their self esteem and confidence to tackle other things. We start early with small chores, helping to get meals on the table, and “picking up” after themselves in an effort to grow self-sufficiency. Play is perhaps the most fun method to grow and learn to independently solve problems.
Ever since I was a little girl, LEGO® bricks have been a part of my life. My Danish grandmother brought over sets from her homeland for my dad and his siblings to play with long before they were available in the U.S. We grandchildren played with those same LEGO® bricks for hours on end. Today, my boys play with the vintage LEGO® toys at my dad’s house–utterly infatuated with how simple they appear compared to what is available today.
My own boys have played with LEGO® products as soon as they were able to safely play with them. I like to joke that our house is decorated in an Early LEGO® Decor because my boys creations on display on just about every flat surface of the house.
Son #1 has moved on from Harry Potter sets to a fascination with the LEGO® Architecture sets comprised of f which are replicas of famous landmarks. My second Son is currently obsessed with the LEGO® Minecraft sets–that kid rattles when he walks with all of the plastic LEGO® bricks jiggling in his pockets at all times! Son #3 is a big fan of the LEGO® Star Wars sets, so battles between the rebels and the empire are commonplace. Son #4 started playing with DUPLO® bricks, but he’s at the age where he doesn’t want to play with anything that could possibly be considered a “baby” toy.
Never one to be left out, Son #4 tries to join in the fun, but he’s often frustrated when it comes to following the instructions to build anything on his own. The instructions are a little too complex for him to follow. He wants to build independently, but he’s easily frustrated trying to find pieces or interpreting the directions. He needs a lot of help and supervision to avoid a meltdown when he gets stuck. We encourage him not to give up, but sometimes the frustration is too much for the little guy. Luckily his brothers are willing to build creations on demand. The only trouble comes when they actually have to relinquish said creations to the hands of their baby brother.
When I was contacted by the kind folks at LEGO® Juniors to try a few of their sets gear toward 4 to 7 year olds, I couldn’t refuse. Son #4 shrieked with excitement when I mentioned that he’d be able to play with a LEGO® brick set that is just his size.
“Oh, YES, Mom! Of course I want to! Wait. These will be just my LEGO®, right? I don’t have to share them with brothers?” Leave it to the Baby of the family to work that angle! I should also mention that he was practically stalking the mail carrier while waiting for the package to arrive.
Although he was a little leery of the pink box because he said it was girly. He got over it as soon as he opened it. LEGO® bricks are universal! He was initially drawn to the red box, so the fact that he opened the pink box first made me smile.
Learning to Build
LEGO® Juniors brick sets are different from the sets developed for older kids in that they are designed for the building skills of the stage of growth of 4 to 7 year olds. The bigger sets have numbered bags of bricks containing different parts of the model. The organization of pieces makes finding the right bricks for the job much easier.
Start Playing Right Away
The LEGO® Juniors sets also include larger, premade pieces. Son #4 was able to start playing on his own right away. I got such a kick out of listening to the rolling dialogue between he and the included minifigures. In his imagination, the minifigures were his apprentices. He was explaining the building process to the them, and they offered input in return.
Every time that I peeked into the playroom to ask if he needed help, I was shooed away. He said, “No thanks, mama. I’ve got this.” Wow. All right, buddy. Carry on.
Part of his newly discovered independence is due to the fact that the instructions are intuitive. The instructions contain simple illustrations that are clearly labeled every step of the way. The instructions require no reading other than recognizing numbers and then following the illustrations in order. Son #4 was able to independently build a complete LEGO® Juniors set entirely on his own. His confidence at being able to build a LEGO® set all by himself is palpable.
“Mom! Come quick! I finished building my LEGO® sets! Come see how cool they are!”
Son #4 is happy with the many different parts of the set. I’m impressed with the attention to detail for the pieces included. There are so many little accessories that serve as a springboard for imaginative stories to take flight. The ATM in the Police Helicopter set comes with a few pieces of money that fit into the dispenser slot. The kitchen in the Family House even has cupcakes and a baking pan that fit into the oven. The details are amazing!
Creative Independent Play
Son #4 spends his days playing with the LEGO® Juniors sets. Every day is a new adventure in creative independent play. He takes special pride in asking his brothers, “Hey guys! Do you want to play with my LEGO® with me?”
My favorite part of watching my youngest play with the LEGO® Juniors sets is all of the imaginative stories that he narrates as he plays. The joy that he radiates while he creates with the toys just warms my heart. I highly recommend LEGO Juniors for gift giving for children between the ages of 4 to 7. The hours of fascination and independent play time with the toys is priceless.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.