In this activity, students experiment with various LEGO building techniques. They will learn how to create circular walls and connect walls in three different methods, the difference between a beam and a column, and how to join bricks. Students will practice each technique before applying what they have discovered to a LEGO Challenge project. Additionally, students will discover how real-world construction is similar to LEGO construction and identify these strategies in actual construction. It should take 45 to 60 minutes to complete the activity, which is suitable for kids in grades 3 through 8.
LEGO walls are built in the same way that real walls are. This is called "brick bonding," and it involves putting together bricks and concrete blocks. These patterns are interesting because they can be changed to make attractive patios and walks. The type of brick bond you choose depends on what you want the wall to do, whether it's meant to be artistic or structural, and how you want it to look. For example, a stretcher bond is used for yard or boundary walls, while a common or English bond is used for strong load-bearing walls. However, walls that are both attractive and sturdy are created using the Flemish bond. Ultimately, the concepts behind building LEGO walls and actual walls are the same, which helps bridge the gap between models and real world construction.
Why this Activity?
Building with LEGOs is a great way for kids to develop their creativity and problem-solving skills through hands-on play. They can make almost anything they can think of come to life but they also need to be good at fixing problems so they can figure out how to put the LEGO pieces together in the best way. This is where having a good sense of space comes in handy. To move and arrange the bricks so that they fit together perfectly, you need to have good spatial skills. If you have ever tried to make a sign and ran out of room for the last letters you understand how important spatial skills are. Learning LEGO building techniques can help develop spatial and problem solving skills.
Let the kids know that they will learn different LEGO building techniques. These ways will not only help them build better LEGO models, but they will also teach them about how buildings are built in the real world. The whole lesson plan, including explanations, activities and a video, is on the presentation slide show.
You can connect LEGO bricks in three ways: by stacking, overlapping, or staggering. Just put one brick on top of the other to stack them. This works well for posts and legs but not for making strong walls. When you overlap bricks, you connect them both up and down and side to side. This makes a strong bond and is the best way to build strong walls. When bricks are stacked halfway on top of each other, they can be used to make hills and roofs with curves. You can use the overlap method to make round walls or to connect two walls at right angles. For round walls, connect the ends of blocks that are one stud wide. This makes a joint that can be moved and made into a circle. To connect two walls that go in opposite directions, build them both at the same time. Place a LEGO brick over the joint where the two walls meet, and alternate the direction of the brick over the joint as the walls grow.
Beams and columns are important parts of the structure of a building. Columns are vertical supports like table legs that carry weight to the ground or another building below. LEGO has four different kinds of columns: simple and compound (bricks stacked on top of one another) and chimney and keyhole (overlapping bricks). Like a balance beam, a beam is a horizontal support that moves weight to columns. A beam can be a long LEGO brick or plate, or it can be made by overlapping bricks.
Have kids identify the real-world building methods on the slideshow that are similar to how LEGO constructions are built. Encourage them to find examples in the classroom or to go on a school-wide hunt for examples of columns and beams. Give your students cameras if you can and have them take pictures of different building techniques you find. Another idea is to take close up photos of building techniques around the school and see if students can guess where they were taken.
Students can do the LEGO tasks on their own or as part of a group. Either way, separate the students into groups and give each group a standard LEGO set with bricks and plates to help them stay organized. Give each student a list of things to build and give each group examples from the slideshow of what they need to build. You can find a Google Doc of the examples in the resource section titled “LEGO build worksheet.” If you put the printouts in page protectors you can reuse them for multiple classes or grades.
The Unofficial LEGOs Builder's Guide - The building techniques I used for this lesson came from this book.