Natasha Kolivas, Speech Pathologist, writes…
Over the last few months I have had the pleasure of spending time in lots of my client’s homes (virtually, that is). During this time, I have noticed that if there is one toy that almost all my families have and that all my kiddos love, it’s LEGO! Whether it’s a small box of mixed pieces or a large expert level construction pack, LEGO or block play is one resource that has become a staple in many therapy sessions. And for a good reason – not only is LEGO highly motivating, but it can allow us to target so many different goals!
LEGO and Play – this one might go without saying, but LEGO inspires the imagination, perfect for those working on expanding their play (“I’m going to teach you to build a rocket”), adding sequences to their play (“Where should the boy go after the shops? Let’s build that!”) or playing more flexibly (“You chose the colour of the head, so I’ll choose the colour of the body”).
LEGO and Communication – with a little thoughtful consideration, almost all LEGO play can be manipulated so that the child has to communicate to request something of you (be it the next piece or the next instruction). However, LEGO can also lead to communicating to share something of interest (“Look at my cool house!”).
LEGO and Expressive Language – many different language goals can be targeted during simple building play. Think adjectives (“I want the red/small/flat/round/weird-looking block”), nouns (“Let’s build a door/car/tree/spaceship next!”), verbs (“this little man is swimming/running/throwing/falling/crying”), or even just extending the length of phrases.
LEGO and Receptive Language – many packets of LEGO come with their own instructions, so there is no reason why these can’t be read out by a peer or adult and provide an opportunity to practice any number of receptive language goals. These might include understanding 2-step instructions (“Find a flat piece and put it on the ground”), prepositions (“This piece goes inside/under/beside the bush”) or sequential language (“First you put the blue piece, and then the red piece”).
LEGO and Speech Sounds – you may need to prepare a little bit more with this goal, but only so much as to have the words or phrases that you want to practice nearby. Say the target sound/word/phrase 5 times, you get the next piece: easy-peasy!
LEGO and Social Skills – one of my personal favourite goals to work on. We often think of LEGO play as quite an independent endeavour but adding in a play partner can often allow the child to practice so many different social skills. These might include turn-taking, negotiating, problem solving, sharing, conversational skills, self-regulation, reading face and body clues… the list goes on!
So, if you have a child who just LOVES LEGO, don’t be afraid to ask your Speech Pathologist how you can build their goals into this preferred activity.