Pencils. Books. Teachers' dirty looks. Next week, nine months of academic and social awkwardness await our kids. They’re rolling off a water park and sunshine high, so packing up the Avengers backpack and boarding the big yellow bus holds little appeal.
With all this academia, creativity can often be pushed to the side, or ignored completely. Let’s face it: School is structure. Kids are prepping for the TAKS test, but are they expanding their creative muscles? Too many rules, not enough free thinking.
Legos have been a playtime staple for generations. Yet, as far as creativity goes, they’ve become slightly programmed. Most kits focus on building a particular licensed vehicle or play set; just follow the instructions, and boom... instant playtime. That’s what kids seem to know, and for parents, all we seem to have time for.
It’s important for kids — and us — to remember that they can forgo the rules and get wild. Showing them they can build or create by letting go of an instruction booklet is a great life lesson.
A good way to ease them into this mind frame (and a nice back to school treat) is the LEGO KidsFest at the Austin Convention Center, running August 31 to September 2. But don’t let the “KidsFest” name fool you. Adults that used to — or still do — click bricks together will have plenty of fun at this traveling exhibit.
To get your creative juices flowing, here are a few highlights from the LEGO KidsFest show that should be making an appearance at the Austin stop.
The big brick pile
Yes, any parent deals with this on a daily basis. But, judging from photos on the LEGO KidsFest website, this brick pile could fill a home from floor-to ceiling. Kids are invited to dive right in and start building. Best of all, parents don’t have to clean up.
LEGO Master Builders
A select few people get paid to figure out how to build an eight-feet-tall Batman out of Lego bricks. Those are the LEGO Master Builders. For the kid that wants to be a brick builder for a living, a chat with these guys will be all the encouragement they’ll need.
LEGO Challenge Zone
Nothing bonds families better than feverishly working together to build a LEGO skyscraper. Families square off against other families in speed challenges and other cool activities. These challenges could end in tears and hurt feelings, so plan accordingly.
LEGO Model Museum
Check out miniature or life-size models built out of LEGO bricks.
LEGO Master Builder Academy
Here’s the place where your kids can learn skills to become a better builder. LEGO Master Builders will show kids the fundamentals of design, engineering and art through LEGO bricks.
The activities and ideas that can spring from this event can be applied to anything creative, from paints to popsicle stick sculptures. Getting someone to think beyond the printed instructions can work wonders (see IKEA furniture instructions).
A visit to the LEGO KidsFest can inspire kids and adults to create what’s in their heads and think outside of the LEGO box. With school set to get little minds thinking 1-2-3, a trip to this brick-o-rama will give them plenty of imaginative ideas when it’s creative thinking time.
LEGO KidsFest starts Friday, August 31 and runs through Sunday, September 2. For more information, visit the KidsFest website.