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A young builder proudly displays her Lego creation at the Nashua Public Library. Courtesy photo.




Get building

Contact your local library to learn about Lego workshops, clubs and events. 




Building blocks of fun
Lego Junior Maker Space toolkits to expand library programs

12/04/14
By Allie Ginwala aginwala@hippopress.com



 If you let them build stuff, they will come — at least that’s the theory behind a new initiative that brought more Legos to New Hampshire libraries.

Through a partnership between the Association for Library Services to Children and Lego Systems, New Hampshire public libraries have received Junior Maker Space toolkits to increase programs that encourage children to imagine, build and work together. 
Michael York, New Hampshire state librarian, received the toolkits in October after ALSC reached out to him. 
“[They] said that they would like to donate 15 sets to New Hampshire libraries, and they asked for our help on that,” he said.
York was more than happy to send new Legos to the libraries, many of which currently use donated Legos. He sent a toolkit to each of the state’s 11 library cooperatives to share. 
“We have a number of library cooperatives in the state that work together on things, share resources, make common purchases, train together, and they tend to be geographical,” he said.  
The toolkits consist of about 10,000 Legos in all shapes and sizes, as well as bags full of little Lego people. The idea behind the Junior Maker Space toolkits is to give the pieces to kids and let them create as they will. No rules or specific programming are included. 
“One of the things that we have noticed and educators have [noticed] for a long time, certainly for younger children [is that] play is an important part of education,” York said. 
Kathy Bolton, supervisor of Children’s Services at Nashua Public Library, has seen the benefit of using Legos firsthand. The Nashua library offered a Lego workshop for the past five years. 
“My whole thing here has been, ‘It’s your project,’” Bolton said. “The beauty of this is they just do whatever they want. … It’s their creation, it’s in their imagination. When you don’t have any instructions and there is no picture, the only picture is what you’re picturing in your mind. I like that imaginative part of it.” 
She hosts a three-week workshop in the fall and winter sessions for about 12 kids who range from 6 to 10 years old. The group gathers around long tables in the library’s east wing and the kids go to work on their projects. Bolton is excited to see what the addition of the Junior Maker Space toolkits will do to the current workshop. 
“We’ve had these bricks that have been nicely donated to use … but now I have this whole new set. It doubles the amount of Legos, which means I can take more kids,” she said. 
Bolton was impressed by the scale of the toolkits.
“They’ve got everything in there,” she said. “It’s jam-packed with these packages of Lego shapes. … It’s crammed full. It was so exciting to receive them. … I just sit back and watch and see these young kids work together and cooperate and make something.” 
Once they’re done, each young builder in Nashua shares the story behind their creation, which pushes the project further by having them voice their ideas in an open forum. Once the kids have created and shared their castle, spaceship or ranch, they put them in the children’s room glass display case — a reward for their time and effort and an incentive to come back and create again. 
Bolton plans to expand the Lego workshops already in place and start something new based on the librarian booklet that came with the toolkit. It offers suggestions for creating the maker space, starting new projects and working individually and in groups.
“Kids who just happen to be coming into the library to get books, it’s just like a magnet,” Bolton said. “Children are just very attracted to it.” 
 
As seen in the December 4, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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