My 5 year old S and her 7 year old cousin J, joined Laura Porretta at a Bricks 4 Kidz "Amusement Park" themed camp in Harrisburg, North Carolina. This wasn't the first time that I had heard about this program, but prior to trying out the camp I thought to myself "It's just playing with Legos, and S has Legos at home - why would I pay to send her to a program to play when she can do the same thing at home?"
What I learned from talking with Laura and watching the kids at the camp, is that Bricks 4 Kidz isn't just about play - they are teaching valuable skills sets - especially those that help kids get excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Kids are put into teams and have to construct a project with another child they might not know, allowing them to use social interaction, teamwork, cooperation, and interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. To build the project they need to count how many pieces of each Lego they need, and match each piece to the instructions. They have to follow the instructions step by step incorporating sequencing and organization skills. They connect the small and large Legos helping with their fine motor skills. When they run into trouble - which they will - they use their problem solving and reasoning skills to find a fix and get back on track to finish the project. The teamwork and the determination of the kids was infectious - I wanted to jump in and start building myself!
The kids built a swing the day I was there observing, and the swing was motorized - it's not the ho-hum Legos from the 80's! They used a battery pack to bring their creation to swinging life - and the kids were thrilled. After the children had completed the basic project, many didn't want to stop there. They decided to customize it and add extra seats or make it a double swing. It was really fun to watch their imaginations run wild and use the skills they were learning (without realizing they were learning).
Bricks 4 Kidz offers programs for kids of all ages 18 months - 12 years. They offer them for after school, pre-school, field trips, camps and birthday parties. As a mom and scientist (and lover of the STEM) I was really impressed with the program and all the ways it helps kids learn and grow. S really enjoyed the experience and we plan to enroll her in an after school program to help her develop those important skills, all while having fun. Laura and the folks at Bricks 4 Kidz will be hosting programs all around the North Charlotte area including Harrisburg, Concord, Huntersville, Cornelius and Mooresville. You can check out their website by clicking here or visit their facebook page by clicking here for updates. Cost is about $12 for an hour after school class.