We received some new LEGO DUPLO toys the other day – the My First Farm, My First Supermarket and My First Fire Station sets. There was much excitement as my 6- and 2-year-olds tore open the boxes and the bricks fell to the ground.
One of the great things about LEGO DUPLO is that the size of the bricks and sturdy design is perfect for small hands, making them a great introduction to building and creating for children 18 months on. It also encourages their fine motor skills and develops their imagination, as kids use the characters to role-play shopping at a supermarket or putting out a fire. So they’re learning without even realising it!
All children like playing shops and with My First Supermarket they can stack up the groceries, use the checkout to ring up the order and practice their counting while adding up the bill. You can encourage their learning by asking them questions: "How many bananas are there? What colour are they?"
With My First Fire Station you could even use it to start a conversation on fire safety, role-playing what to do if there’s a fire in the house. This would be particularly effective with 4 to 5-year-olds.
However, the favourite set for my 2-year-old is My First Farm, which includes farm animal figurines. Like most 2-year-olds she loves animals, so she made the animal sounds, sang Baa Baa Black Sheep and pretended we were farmers herding our animals into the barn.
So often these days my kids end up playing on the iPad, which has some fantastic benefits, but it often does the creating for them. Yet playing the old-fashioned way - using their imaginations, moving the figurines while role-playing, and stacking bricks - is just as important for their development as ever.
I found the LEGO DUPLO toys to be a great way of facilitating learning and development, and will be making sure I encourage this kind of play more often.
For more information on LEGO DUPLO and the My Firsts Range, visit shop.lego.com.