Lego Club Challenge–Lego Tape

This is one challenge I’ve been wanting to do for awhile!!  Lego tape is such a cool invention, and I wanted to incorporate it into Lego Club and see how it went.  So after we talked about the rules of the club, I told kids that they can build anything that they want.  But they somehow have to use a piece of tape in their piece.  I brought out regular tape and asked them if they thought this would work?  They said no so I brought out Lego Tape for the win!!

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I was able to find this set of Lego tape at Wal Mart on their “As Seen on TV” shelf.  You get four rolls, each containing three feet of tape.  It was around $12, so a buck a foot is a pretty good deal I think.  I was able to cut it into 6″ strips for my kids; it was a smaller group this time around so I actually had enough and didn’t need to open the second container.

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The tape overall is of good quality and it does stick to mostly everything, and works great with Legos.  I just found that you have to be careful unpeeling the back, because the sticky part isn’t always attached to the actual tape the best, so it’s possible to rip that part off completely when you remove the plastic backing.  That happened to me (and only happened to me somehow) so I just stuck some double stick tape to it and it was fine.  It’s also reusable, so I had my kids save their plastic backing so I could reuse their tape once I broke everything down.  Their pieces have been in the display case for about three days now and the tape is still sticking!!  I only had to adjust one or two pieces, so I think it’s pretty quality stuff.

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The kids loved the idea of the tape, but really had no idea how to use it or incorporate it into their piece.  A few kids actually gave their piece back at the end of the hour!!  It was a younger group than usual, so that might have been part of the problem.   Maybe I should have brainstormed with them a bit more than I usually do.  I don’t like to brainstorm with them too much since I don’t want to influence what they’re going to build.  I also might have walked around with my example a bit too late for kids to really get inspired.  So I think it was a good idea and worth repeating, but something was off this time around.  THAT’S OKAY!!  I’m learning along side the kids that way.

Here’s some of the pieces that turned out the best:

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Tree Climbing

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Lego Club Challenge–Ramps and Slides

This was a big hit at Lego Club!  After quickly going over rules, I told my kids about the Global Cardboard Challenge, where kids are encouraged to make anything they want out of cardboard.  My fiancee is doing the challenge at her library, so I thought I would try to incorporate into Lego Club.  So we would be partaking in the challenge in a way by adding cardboard ramps and slides to our creations today.  And at the end of the hour, we would test everyone’s ramps!!

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What my kiddos needed to do is they needed to make at least one car and one structure that a piece of cardboard could fit on.  This one definitely took some prep, since I had to pre-cut a bunch of different shapes and sizes.  I made a few really long ones if kids wanted to work as a team, and some really small ones for the kids that needed something easy.

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Once we started, I went around to each table and showed them the easy example I made, and they quickly got it after that.  Once kids got started, I walked around and offered to tape their slides to their creation to make them a bit more sturdy.

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Everyone seemed to finish in time, though parental help was needed for some kiddos.  After we cleaned up I told everyone that we would begin testing our slides.  BUT I made sure everyone knew not to be rough with everyone’s creations.  Accidents would happen, but someone worked really hard on this ramp and we weren’t going to go full Godzilla on them.

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They understood and we spent the next 10 minutes testing everyone’s ramps.  Only a few broke, but it wasn’t a big deal.  Taping things down definitely helped avoid catastrophes.

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I set up my example towards the end of the hour.  The top of my ramp was taped to a table and my structure was somewhere at the bottom to make a super ramp.  I purposely did it at the end, so that kids would use their imagination a bit more and not just copy what I did.

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Lego Club Challenge–Secret Zoo

This one turned out pretty interesting.  After setup and rules, I introduced our theme as “Secret Zoo.”  It’s kind of a twist on a Lego Challenge I did a few months ago called “Scavenger Hunt.”  So the idea here was that kids were going to build a zoo exhibit.  They needed to have an animal (real or pretend), some sort of cage for them, and food for your animal to eat.

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BUT the twist is that they don’t tell anyone what animal you’re making.  So at the end of the hour, each exhibit would get a pencil and a piece of paper.  Then during our sharing time, we would go around the room and GUESS what the animal is, based on what you built!

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Kids did pretty good with this one, although some definitely needed parental help.  The biggest problem is that some kids used the animals that were already in the Lego buckets, like the horse.  That was okay for my group (my group was 35 kids this time!) but if you’re expecting a small group, you might want to remove these ahead of time.  Just so that kids use their imagination a bit more.

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Kids that didn’t follow the theme still got to participate, and we still had fun guessing what their piece was suppose to be.

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So here’s some of my favorite ones.

This one stumped a few people.  It looks like an owl, but it’s actually a monkey.  You can tell by the bananas on the tree.

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A parent made this AWESOME flamingo!

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This one stumped me but it’s obvious now.  Nice tiger!

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And a very creative elephant.

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But this one stumped everyone.  People guessed whale, turtle, walrus, and Loch Ness monster.  It was actually a mudfish.

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Overall it went pretty well. It’s a nice twist on a standard Lego challenge you might have done already.

 

We Be Clubbin–How to Start and Manage a Lego Club

Lego Club–if you don’t have one, start one now.  Having a Lego Club is such an amazing way to get kids into the library again and again.  And after the initial investment, it’s basically a no cost program that’s more or less guaranteed to bring in kids every time.  I initially modeled my Lego Club mostly after The Show Me Librarian, but I’ve definitely perfected the program over the years.

Materials

First off, you need to buy Legos.  I’ve be told that there are some libraries that make kids bring their own Legos.  Um…what??    First off, that’s a huge barrier to access; families that can’t afford Legos obviously can’t attend, and that’s really unfair since they can get expensive.  On top of that, it’s a huge headache to deal with all the borrowing and trading that’s bound to happen.  So getting your own is expensive but necessary.

Anyway, I usually set up six round tables and put one medium sized tub down on each table.  Each tub works for about 4-5 kids.  I started out by buying three of them, just to test the waters.  I now have six, with a donated seventh tub as a backup, and that seems to work out just fine.

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Next you need to buy the plates.  You’ll never have enough of the big plates so I’ve found success in buying a bunch of the small 5×5 plates.  They’re cheaper, easier to buy and store, and they can be transformed into a normal 10×10 plate if need be.  I’ve gone with the imitation plates and they’ve worked out fine in the past; it’s probably a good idea to check out reviews before purchasing though.

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Lastly, you need minifigures.  Those somehow are always the most expensive part.  But buying them separately is necessary, since none of the tubs ever have guys in them.  This is probably the best way to get started.  It’s expensive, but you get a lot of minifigures out of it.

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If that’s out of your price range right now, you can try something like the Lego Advent Calendar; it has six figures in it, plus a bunch of extra weird pieces that are hard to find.

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Also buy at least one set of the Wheel and Axle kit.  Minifigures go fast, but wheels go even faster.  It’s hard to drive a car you made without someone at the wheel, but it’s even harder when there’s no wheels on it at all.

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Procedure

First thing I do is come up with a theme or challenge.  Why do you need a theme??  It helps keep the kids focused, and it keeps the club different every single time.  Remember most kids will have Legos at home, so to get them in the library you have to offer something they can’t get playing by themselves.  Don’t worry–I have a BUNCH of themes to pick from.  I always explain that they DON’T HAVE to do the theme, and can always build whatever they want–but nearly all kids like the theme provided.

Time–(0:00-0:05)

I welcome everybody in and talk really quick about what we do here at Lego Club.  Before we talk about the theme, we always go over the rules of Lego Club, which I stole from Christie Gibrich from a PUBYAC  post when I started the club.

The four rules of Lego Club are:

  • Respect the space.–No running around, just sit and work on your piece.
  • Respect others.–That means everyone has to share and help each other out.  Teamwork makes the dream work.
  • Respect yourself.–Stay positive.  We don’t compete with or put down other club members; we build just for fun.
  • Respect the Legos.–We don’t throw the Legos.  We don’t eat the Legos.  We don’t shove the Legos up our nose.  We don’t shove the Legos up our friend’s nose.  And the Legos have to stay in the library at the end of the day.

To help kids out with this last rule, I offer to take pictures of them with their creations.  I then print them out and give them their pictures next time they’re there.  That takes some time, but it’s another reason to come to the next meeting.  I’ve had parents come in, just to pick up their pictures, so it’s a popular feature.

After we discuss rules, anyone that’s new to the club then gets to come up and sign the rules.

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I think after three years, I need a new sign.

After that, we discuss the theme.  Sometimes we brainstorm together if I think the challenge might be too hard, but most of the time I just leave them to it.  I can always help out kids that are struggling later.

Time (0:05-0:25)

Here I just go around to the different tables and hang out with the kids and parents.  I ask them what they’re building and help them if they need anything.  If they’re looking for a particular piece I try to find it or give them an alternative piece.  I also might build my own piece as well.  What I build is usually REALLY bad, and it’s kind of a joke when we get to sharing at the end of the hour.

Time (0:25-0:30)

I get everyone’s attention and tell them we’re at the halfway point, so it’s time to start wrapping up their piece.  I remind them what the theme is one more time and send them back at it.

Time (0:30-0:45)

This is usually when I try to start taking pictures for my kids.  I always ask them if they want a picture of themselves holding their creation and then I take it really quick, and then explain to the parents where they can pick it up next time they are at Lego Club.  This hopefully makes kids want to come back.

Time (0:45-0:50)

Clean up.  Everyone has to stop what they are doing and starting cleaning up the extra pieces.  I explain that kids SHOULD NOT break apart what they built, but everything else needs to go back into the buckets.  Then I run around and help out, check the floor for extra Legos, and finish taking pictures.

Time (0:50-1:00) 

I quickly go over any announcements like programs coming up, then I remind people about the next Lego Club.  After that it’s time to share, race the cars we made, or any other crazy thing I came up with to make it more interesting.  During share time, we walk around to all the tables and the creators talk about their project.  Some kids will talk FOREVER about their creations, so I try to hurry them along as best as I can.  If we skip share time, it’s usually because we have something else planned like a race or a scavenger hunt.

Time (1:00+)

We line up and put everything in our display case.  GET A DISPLAY CASE if you can to show off your Legos.  First off, it’s FREE advertising–kids visiting the library are instantly drawn to it.  And second it prevents Legos from sneaking off–you can’t steal your Legos if they’re locked up behind glass.  Plus kids love knowing that other kids will be looking at their creations for the next few weeks.

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You can always display on top of a bookcase, but what most likely will happen is you’ll slowly lose your Legos  So this is probably the best way to do it.  I also have a sign in there that shows all the club dates for the entire year; I’ve gotten a lot of people to stop by using this method.

So that’s it!  If you’re just starting out, expect a small crowd but it will grow pretty fast.  Take photos of the best creations and put them on your library’s Facebook page.  It’s guaranteed to get likes, and it’s a great way to promote the program.

 

Lego Club Challenge–Zip Line Racing

Go Lego Go!!  This one is a favorite for my kiddos because it’s definitely not something you do everyday.  After I explained the rules of Lego Club, I told them the day’s challenge.  They first had to build a car, plane, boat, carplane, boatcar, or any other combination.  But they had to work into their design some sort of loop to attach a paper clip too.

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There are lots of Legos that could work so kids didn’t really have problems figuring it out.  I went around to each table and explained it again just in case anyone was stuck.

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Setting up the track in my room is actually pretty easy.  I have a large coat rack at the back of the room that’s attached to the wall.  So all I have to do is tie some string to the coat rack, measure out the string for my tracks to make it kinda even, add some pulleys, and then tie all the strings to the leg of some tables.  You might have to get creative if you don’t have a similar setup like my coat rack, but it doesn’t take a whole lot of distance or height to make it work.

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This time around I did four tracks (MORE is BETTER) but that turned out to be harder to manage.  People were able to race faster, but getting kids to hook up their vehicles, then getting the parent volunteers to drop at the same time was a bit of a hot mess.  So I would recommend only doing two lanes.

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So anyway, once kids were done building, they could practice on the track, but only one at a time.  Otherwise they start racing each other and it’s too distracting for everyone then.  Once they were ready, I would attach their paper clip to a pulley; from there I would try to bend the paper clip to make their vehicle face forward so that it actually looks like it’s flying.  It doesn’t really have the same effect if it’s flying sideways.

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I would tell them to wait to the bottom of the track to catch their piece.  Most of them made it down the track just fine, I told them to add weight if it didn’t make it all the way down.  And if it exploded when it hit the table leg from going to fast, I would tell them to make it a bit sturdier.  Kids LOVE it when their cars explode though, so no one ever follows that advice.  Although I did have a few kids try to make bumpers for when their car hit the leg of the table.

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If there test drive was successful, I told them they could either try to add more weight to make it go faster or they could build a garage for their piece.  We built and tested for about 40 minutes, cleaned up for 5 minutes, and then spent the rest of the time racing.  Great fun!!  Thanks to Little Bins for Little Hands for inspiring the idea.

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Lego Club Challenge–Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt!!  This one took a little bit more prep than usual, but it’s totally worth it.  I started out by looking through all of my Lego buckets for some unique items.  Hats, animals, jewels–things that stand out and that kids always want to use in their piece.

After that, I went to Google and started looking up pictures for all these different items.  The GREAT thing is that basically every single piece is going to be on Google Image somewhere since they often get sold individually, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding photos.

Then I took all those photos and made a quick name tag for every item.  When we get to the “Scavenger Hunt” portion of the lesson plan, I think it’s really helpful to have a good picture and a basic description of what it is.

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After that, I taped all of my pieces to their name cards so that:
A) Kids wouldn’t lose them.
B) I wouldn’t lose them.

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I prepped about 40 of them, in case I had a lot of kids or in case kids lost their special piece.  It all took about 4 hours of prep, so not too bad.

So then it was time for Lego Club!!  After our normal rules, I explained that everyone would get one special Lego that they would have to hide in their piece.  But there were some extra rules:

  1. You can’t hide your special item under anything.  It has to be out so that everyone can see it.  So the goal is to hide it, but not cover it.
  2. No trading pieces.  I knew that this would lead to confusion later.  Besides it doesn’t really matter what you get, it only matters how well you hide it.
  3. Don’t detach your special piece right away.  We don’t want kids losing them and I don’t want to spend an hour looking for ONE thing.
  4. Don’t throw out your name tag.  They’ll need it for the end!!  I had copies of all of the tags, so that wasn’t a big deal.

So kids built a piece for about 45 minutes to hide their special item, then we cleaned up everything extra.  I set up some tables along the back, so that kids could take their piece AND their name tag and place it on the back table.  After that, we spent about 10 minutes running around and trying to find everyone’s special items.  A LOT OF FUN!!

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Kids seemed to need more parental help than usual, but everyone had fun and they all turned out REALLY good!!  Here’s a few the kids made–can YOU find all the secret items?

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Lego Club Challenge–Hidden Treasure!!

This was another really simple concept that kids liked!!  After we went over rules, I told our kids that our theme was: secrets!  We didn’t really brainstorm as a group, but I told them some of my ideas.  They could build a house with secret doors or secret passages or a secret jail.  Or they could build something really big and hide something small inside of it.

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My kiddos got to work RIGHT a way.  Every once and awhile, kids get stuck on the theme but not this time.  They knew what they wanted to do, and as always, they blew me away with what they and their parents could come up with.  And they loved talking about all the stuff they had hidden and where.  Here’s one with a really cool secret passage:

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Here’s a Egyptian tomb with skeletons hidden in the crypts:

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One of my younger kiddos made this one, but it works!  Lots of small stuff hidden in that car and in the buildings that he made:

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And here’s a secret house.  When I asked him what was inside, he said “It’s a secret!”  But if you ask me nicely, I might tell you what’s inside:

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This got me thinking for my NEXT theme!!  It’s going to be kind of a “Where’s Waldo?” but with Legos!!  Can’t wait to see how that one turns out, so stay tuned!!