Children’s Program Ideas – Legos
Lego programs have been growing in popularity at many libraries. They attract those boys who may be drifting away from reading, and girls enjoy the Legos, too. Most of the libraries I surveyed held their Lego clubs once or twice a month, on Saturday afternoons.
One reason the Lego club is so popular with libraries is that it is a very easy program to conduct. Most libraries spend very little money or staff time on the program. They will do the regular publicity of flyers to schools, press releases to the local papers, and so forth. One staff member is at the club meeting to take care of emergencies, and high school volunteers do most of the set-up and clean-up.
Often, the Lego club can take place in a meeting room, but you can also hold the program in the children’s area of the library using just a few tables. Most of the time, between 15 and 25 children will attend, so the program is relatively contained. Most libraries advertise the Lego Club for ages 5-10, or Kindergarten through Fifth grades.
Teen volunteers set out the Lego pieces, and help maintain order. Many of the teens played with Legos when they were kids, so they often help the younger children who are making different vehicles or buildings. There are a few Lego books if you have children who want to make a specific structure, but most kids just like to do free-form Legos.
The staff member is there to help in case a child needs to be taken to the parent, needs directions to the rest room, and to make sure everyone is sharing the Legos. Some libraries offer refreshments; if that is the case, assign a few teen volunteers to make sure each child is served, and to avoid all the refreshments being taken by just a few people. I believe having refreshments is a big draw, and makes the program more of a party. You can have healthy snacks like fruit, frozen juice bars, or other healthy choices.
When starting the club, ask for donations of Legos. You can put up posters in the library or other community centers. Often, library staff members will have Legos that are no longer in use. Teenagers may be willing to part with their Legos. You can also visit garage sales to see if there are any Legos for sale at a low price. The Legos may need to be washed before using – perhaps they were collecting dust in a storage area. Teen volunteers can do this task. Each child will use approximately 50 Legos, so you will need to calculate how many to have. If you have 20 children in the program, you will need at least 1,000 Legos to have enough to go around.
There may be a few Lego items you may need to purchase. Each child will want a base to display his or her structure, so you may need to buy some bases. Mini-figures are also very popular; you may want to invest in a few. Wheels and car pieces are also in demand. Perhaps the Friends of the Library can donate some start up money for the program so you can buy a few things to augment your donations.
Most librarians surveyed did not think the themed sets were worth the money, since the pieces get mixed into the other Legos at the end of the session. So you can skip those unless they are donated.
At the end of each session, take photos of the Lego structure with the child who made it (with the parent’s permission of course). You can display the photos on a bulletin board to advertise the next meeting, or post a few photos to your library’s website. If you have a display case, you can also show off some of the wonderful things the kids have made.
If the larger Duplo sets are donated, they can also be used at the Lego club, or saved for a preschool program. The very young children may prefer using the Duplo sets, and then graduate to the Legos.
Some libraries have a special theme or contest, but many find that the kids just want to play with the Legos and be creative without a lot of structure. It is easier on you if you don’t have a lot of rules or themes, since the kids just want to have fun. Many will make friends and work together with other children. Since the whole idea of the club is to do a simple program without a lot of staff time, let it be free form and see how that works.
A Lego club can be a great program to hold without much work or money. If your library needs to cut back on paid entertainers or other programs that cost a few hundred dollars a month, a Lego program can be a great substitute in this economy. Rather than cut programs altogether, substitute a Lego Club so families still have something to do that is fun and free.