Thursday, 14 September 2017

Got lots of LEGO? Have a Building Challenge at Home

We've got lots of LEGO! Boxes and boxes of bricks. We've been inspired by the LEGO Masters TV series on Channel 4 in the UK and started doing our own LEGO challenges at home. This has been great fun and has turned out to be a brilliant way to spend some time together while the kids (and adults!) develop some useful skills.

As my kids have got older they've stopped playing with LEGO as much as they used to (which was a lot admittedly!) The draw of digital devices is strong. I'm more than happy for them to spend lots of time on laptops and tablets, but the key is 'balance'. Plus, all that LEGO cost a fortune, I want to make the most of it!

LEGO is fantastic for developing fine motor skills, structural and mechanical engineering skills and thinking about design and aesthetics.

A themed and timed LEGO family challenge is a great way to develop those skills while having lots of fun.

Challenge Rules

Here's how we're running our challenges:
  1. We each came up with three themes and put them in a hat (my younger son has a large hat collection, you could use a plastic tub instead!)
  2. We pull a theme out of a hat. Sometimes we do this in advance so people can have some thinking time (but not building and part finding). 
  3. We spread LEGO boxes around the room so that they're easily accessible. 
  4. Each challenge runs for 2 hours. We set up timers on our Amazon Echo so that we get regular time checks. 
  5. At the end, we all score each other's creations out of 10 and come to an agreement on a single score. You could score kids more generously but we don't! The score is based on what was achieved at the end of two hours, you can carry on and finish a build afterward but it won't count towards the score.
  6. We record the results in a spreadsheet so we can keep track of how everyone is doing.   


We've got quite a lot of LEGO but no one is keen to take their creations apart! We're photographing the models and each person gets to keep four of their models built at a time. Before each challenge, everyone has to choose one of their previous models to dismantle. 

Although we've got lots of LEGO we found ourselves low on regular bricks because most of the LEGO has come from themed sets. The LEGO Classic range is perfect for topping up a collection for challenges. We've added some packs of basic bricks. We prefer the ones that come in cardboard boxes as we like all our storage to be the same (large plastic under-bed storage boxes that fit under the sofa and are easy to search through.)

Our LEGO isn't sorted like it is on the TV series which does make things take longer. You can spend a lot of time looking for pieces. It does mean that no one can grab all the parts of a particular kind, everyone has a fair chance of getting particular pieces. 

Think about where you're going to store all your challenge creations before you start. We've got a play table that we've used for this purpose.

Our Themes and Creations

So far we've pulled the following themes out of the hat: Wolves, Steampunk, Medieval and Desserts. 

Here are some of our creations. 

Steampunk Garden

Ice Cream Desserts

Horse and Carrot

Japanese Sweets

Steampunk Challenge

Puddings/Desserts Challenge

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