Lego: The Building Blocks of Writing

One of my favorite in-class activities is simple, easy to set up, and, most importantly, it involves Lego. I often use this in composition classes to illustrate the concept of writing as a process, but I’ve found that, with a few minor tweaks, it can be easily adapted to any variety of lessons or concepts. 

Basic steps: 

  • Send around box of Lego and instruct each student to choose four pieces
  • Students assemble the four blocks into a shape of their choice
  • Students then write a set of instructions for how to assemble the shape (I usually limit the number of steps to the number of pieces they have) 
  • They then disassemble their shape and pass along the Lego pieces and written instructions to a peer (preferably one who hasn’t seen them working)
  • Students assemble the Lego pieces they received according to their instructions
  • Once all students have completed the shapes they send them back to their owners

In my experience, there’s usually a fifty-fifty split between students who have their original shape returned to them and those whose shapes look nothing like what they intended. Whatever the outcome, this opens the space for several interesting conversations as students talk about ‘seeing’ the effects of their writing. I also like to link this activity to the writing process. I ask students to think of the box of Lego as the topic, choosing their four pieces as their claims/research, writing instructions as a drafts, and so on.

The length of this activity varies depending on your goals and how long you facilitate discussion but 30-40 minutes provides enough time for both the activity and discussion. If you’re worried about the cost of buying Lego blocks, there are more affordable generic brands available on Amazon.

 

 

Feature image courtesy of https://unsplash.com/@danielkcheung
Teaching Assistant at University of Illinois at Chicago |

Hannah Green is a PhD student in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. While a creative writer by nature, she’s a teacher at heart and enjoys teaching writing in all its forms including composition, professional, technical, and creative writing. Her research interests include the place of the asylum in narratives of mental illness, the literature of Southern Africa, and oral storytelling. Her creative writing appears both in print and online in places such as The Rumpus, PANK, and McSweeney's. Hannah is also the Editor-in-Chief of During Office Hours.

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