Brick by Brick the Lego Foundation and Play Included will work to drive play based learning
The LEGO Foundation has partnered with social enterprise, Play Included, to strengthen and scale play based learning program Brick-by-Brick, which is targeted at neurodiverse children who may benefit from social communication support to boost emotional wellbeing.
Inspired by stories from children on the autism spectrum and their parents, the Brick-by-Brick program has been “reimagined” to train teachers and psychologists to use LEGO® play for therapeutic purposes.
The partnership between the Foundation and Play Included is based on a shared belief that all children should have equal opportunities in life to develop the broad set of skills needed to thrive in the 21st century, such as social communication skills.
About the program
The Brick-by-Brick program brings children together through a shared interest in LEGO play in group settings that children call Brick Club.
At Brick Club, they work together to build specific LEGO models or design and build their own freestyle LEGO creations in small teams. They take turns mastering different roles of the building process until the model is complete.
For example, a group of three children would be given roles such as Engineer – one who gives the instructions as to how to complete the model; Supplier – one who finds the relevant pieces required; and Builder – one who assembles the model.
The program aims to give children on the autism spectrum the opportunity to have additional support with social communication, foster meaningful intersections, and scaffold engagement with others through clear roles, rules and activities.
By building and playing together the children collaborate, communicate, negotiate and problem-solve, developing friendships and creating social opportunities along the way in a safe and fun environment, guided by adults who have undergone comprehensive training in playful learning facilitation.
Boosting social interaction
Dr. Gina Gómez de la Cuesta, Founder and Director of Play Included, explained that there are many reasons why children may struggle with social relationships.
“We want to help more neurodivergent children around the world to make friends and feel a sense of belonging and connection,” she explained, outlining that Play Included was “delighted to partner with the LEGO Foundation” and have “lots of exciting plans” for the next couple of years, such as refreshing the Brick-by-Brick programme and creating a community of practice and new tools to track progress.
By leveraging the LEGO Foundation’s evidence-based tools and frameworks, and creating activities for the home, the partnership will see the Brick-by-Brick programme strengthened with more emphasis placed on playful learning content and facilitation.
Studies will also be carried out to explore how this learning-through-play concept can positively impact the lives of children with other conditions, such as ADHD, anxiety or those who have faced adverse early life experiences.
The Brick-by-Brick programme builds upon the original idea of using LEGO play with autistic children to support their social emotional development, as many often shine due to their attention to detail and skill with LEGO building.
LEGO Based Therapy has shown positive outcomes for social interaction, communication, behaviour and emotional wellbeing for children and young people on the autism spectrum.
“The work that Play Included has done with the Brick-by-Brick programme is inspirational, and it is a true testament to the LEGO Foundation’s philosophy of “Learning-through-Play”. Namely that meaningful, iterative, joyful, socially interactive and actively engaging teaching methods help all children to develop essential life skills such as problem solving, creativity, communication, and confidence; through the most powerful, intuitive way they know – play” said Michelle Ndebele, Play and Health Specialist at the LEGO Foundation.
Refreshed training, how-to-guides, new Brick Club resources and professional materials will be ready by the end of 2021.
To download these activities, learn how children can take part in Brick Club or to find out more about Play Included and their work with the LEGO Foundation, please visit https://playincluded.com.
Professionals interested in being trained in the Brick-by-Brick programme can sign up here for the courses launching end of 2021.