A few weeks ago, Avantika and I threw a party for Laasya’s 5th birthday. For her last couple of birthday parties, we have been taking to the party venue, a set of Laasya’s toys including a plastic bowling set, a music player with a playlist of her current favourite tunes and the usual assortment of party balloons and whistles among other things. The party agenda has just been for the kids to play, dance and sing, till they are tired enough for the cake and food. The grown-ups meanwhile, have a good break and get a chance to catch up with friends. This time we got the idea of assembling Lego bricks as one of the activities in the party, given how much Laasya had begun to get into Lego assembly.
A cursory Internet search led to several listicles on Lego themed birthday parties with each list running into 20–30 ideas or more. But ironically, there were very few suggestions on Lego building as an activity itself. I started developing some misgivings about the idea. Was it not fun enough? Or was it too complicated for a bunch of hyperactive kids? Then we ran into an organization that conducted Lego assembly at birthdays, thanks to an excellent review. The organization, Fun Assembly Required, being based out of Seattle was not of much direct relevance to us since we were based in Bangalore. Besides we could not really do it like them since we did not have 15 kg of Lego bricks, nor did I have the confidence of handling 10–15 kids, about 3–6 years old, let loose on Lego without any agenda of what to build. But it did tell us this was a bonafide idea.
We decided we would make it a scripted building activity with instructions. Laasya had a reasonable quantity of Lego’s Duplo bricks (the larger sized ones) and accessories, thanks to purchases over time and gifts and hand-me-downs from generous friends and relatives. She also had many classic Lego bricks (the smaller size) with which she was now gaining comfort. Since the kids being invited ranged from 3 to 6 years in age, we first thought we would have a combination of the big and small bricks and hand them out to kids based on their age. We identified Lego kits containing either 10–20 large bricks or 40–50 small bricks which we thought would be something the kids could assemble in an hour, if they really got into it. But finally, after some more thought, we figured it might be better to just use the Duplo bricks since they are much easier to find, even under furniture and other fixtures.
First we decided to lay out all the Lego to count how many pieces we had. This was the result!
Laasya promptly appointed herself as the auditor of the process and was happy to show off her counting skills. Then, based on what we had, we decided to make a Lego railway track system and many small things around it, like a zoo, vehicles, gates, a tree and so on. We wanted to reckon if we could make 10–15 mini-projects each requiring an assembly of 10–20 large bricks or pieces. Based on the pictures below, each vetted by our auditor, it looked like we could. As a final measure of preparation, we made a few mental notes about which kids needed to be given the simplest projects and which ones the harder ones. Our Lego making activity was a go.
We sorted the pieces needed for each mini-project and put them in separate bags, so they won’t get mixed up. We printed a sheet each showing all the pieces and final assembly. Given the simplicity of each model, we thought that would suffice. On the day of the party, I wanted to get all the kids to listen. Very cutely and amazingly, they all sat down obediently to listen to the instructions. We handed out the bag and the printout (of the before and after pictures) to each kid. For the zoo and the tracks, we formed teams of 2–3 kids together to fix it all up.
The building did not go exactly as planned, but that’s just my grown-up viewpoint since the kids made only one loop of the railway track instead of two. They pretty much nailed the rest of the stuff. And it was great fun! After the building was done, the kids created an impromptu story about how the family of Lego people rode the train to visit the zoo, how the train had to be re-fueled, and so on. Of course, the agenda also included the obligatory musical statues, the cake and the posed photographs. What birthday is complete without them?
All in all, it was a totally cool idea to do Lego assembly at Laasya’s 5th birthday party. Unsurprisingly, Laasya wanted to be a part of everything, from laying out all the bricks, counting them, checking each picture of the models, to totally getting into building and playing during the party.
So? What are we doing next?
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