Legos for LFL Elementary

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Dozens of Lingle-Fort Laramie Elementary students, along with parents and teachers gathered Tuesday night for the first ever Lego Family Night. Rhett Breedlove/Lingle Guide Goshen County School Board Member, Chris Alexander, along with wife Melinda show support and encouragement at Lingle-Fort Laramie Elementary Tuesday night. Third-grader, Charlie Walker, enjoys the first ever Lego Family Night at Lingle-Fort Laramie Elementary Tuesday evening. The event gives students, families and teachers the perfect chance to stay engaged with education in a fun and relaxing way.

LINGLE – When it comes to keeping elementary school students engaged and interested in their education, occasionally this can be a tall order.

When children between the ages of five and 11 want nothing more than to play and have fun, it never hurts to think outside the box to keep them interested in learning.

Lingle-Fort Laramie Elementary (LFL) librarian, Denise Jackson, months ago came up with a simple, yet clever idea to help keep the children’s minds activated for school. This idea included having fun and building relationships with friends and family, yet at the same time would continue to keep their minds engaged in learning new things.

This idea proved to be an introduction to the first ever Lego Family Night, which Jackson and various colleagues were successfully able to put on at LFL early Tuesday evening.

According to Jackson, the idea had been floating around for quite some time.

“Lego Family Night is the result of us being fortunate enough to receive funding to even get Legos really,” Jackson began. “There’s always been an interest with our students in Legos, and this has provided that opportunity. Last spring, we had a technology facilitator whose position had been funded through a technology grant. They were great about working with all the schools and getting us robotics. They asked if we wanted more robotics, and because of the grant you had to attend a technology conference in Dallas. At that conference there was a Lego education workshop, and that’s probably where the wheels started turning on this.”

According to Jackson, the conference was intriguing, and made perfect sense enough to try and get more Lego-oriented activities integrated with day-to-day education at LFL.

The only obstacle standing in Jackson’s way at the time was getting the appropriate funding to make something like this happen.

“I thought about Lego education, so then it became a matter of funding,” Jackson said. “Our district received this grant from the Digital Learning and Virtual Education Grant Program. Each school was able to request what they could, and as a result of that we recommended Southeast as well as our school. Our schools are very similar in size and are both very well located. So we said, ‘How about if we get similar items together, and try to help each other learn more about Legos and bringing them to our kids.’”

Jackson continued to mention in particular that the Goshen County School Board (GCSB) was incredibly supportive when it came to implementing the concept, both within Southeast and LFL.

“Chris Alexander actually mentioned how important it would be to communicate between our communities, and to know more about it,” Jackson continued. “We received our Legos at the end of October, and we just needed to find a night that worked for everyone along with sports and all other commitments. It was to find something that hopefully would allow parents to participate, and so we partnered with the afterschool program. They have great tutors who were willing to help us come up with a great family night.

“I have library twice a week, and will incorporate a discovery day,” Jackson added. “Maybe every other week during library time. Legos has a robotic element to it, so that will be a perfect way to fit that all together. Fridays will be another great way to use the Legos as we deal with our robotics, and yes hopefully more family nights. We actually hope to look into Lego leagues where there are certain competitions. There are resources available in our community that we can tap into to help us with that. That will probably be for older kids, as some of the Lego kids we have are more in the upper grades and are getting into middle school.”

Jackson further explained that the popularity of Legos is stronger than ever and have proven to help children learn when they don’t even realize they are learning.

Jackson hopes with incorporating this philosophy into the LFL curriculum both during school and with future Family Lego Nights, children will find the same approach when learning subjects that don’t always come naturally.

“I think that just student engagement and how we use it, along with classroom teachers can tap into this very well,” Jackson stated. “It allows for team building, problem solving and all the other elements Legos allow that can be brought into the classroom as a motivation or learning experience. So this is just the beginning, but truly without this grant there’s no way we could afford it. Yes the possibilities are endless, and it won’t’ be just a one-night thing and we’re done. It’s going to be a question of how can we tie it into our curriculum? Can we tie Legos into math night? This is just the beginning. This is to just show the kids that there are different ways to learn, and different fun ways to learn that’s engaging. We want them to have fun while they are learning, and maybe not even know they are learning.”

When it comes to robotics and modern technology, Jackson was asked why Legos became the centerfold as opposed to something more modern or technological.

According to Jackson, if something isn’t broke then there’s no need to fix it.

“They are for all ages, and kids still love Legos,” Jackson said. “It’s just how they can still ease your mind. You need your mind to focus on simple problem solving. Working with your hands and connecting on that seemed like a cool thing to bring to all age groups, and it seemed like a simple task. It’s taken us a while to get there. When you put Legos in with kids, it’s fun to see how they work together, independently, problem solve and just have fun. It’s so engaging just to even watch.”

Jackson was convincing in her assurance that the LFL Lego program will continue to grow, and even more students and community members will take advantage.

With several dozen participants on the first night, it would be fair to say that the new Lego idea will continue to grow into something bigger over time.

“It has been tremendous,” Jackson concluded. “Last night I wasn’t sure how it was going to roll, but the parents were very enthusiastic. The kids were asking first thing this morning if we are going to do it again. The kids that couldn’t make it are listening and hoping that they will get to be a part of it. We want to find a way to make sure our kids take advantage of the opportunity, so I was very excited about so many parents coming. We hope very much that they were all excited to have a place to go and be with their kids.

“Lingle is a very supportive community,” Jackson stated. “We have great parents, and the staff here at the school are very supportive of events like this. It’s part of a way to bring our community together and letting them know the resources are here. We are very fortunate. I love the K-12 school, as well as the resources and support we have from our administration.  I want to give a shout-out to the great community we have. It’s not about me, but truly about the support we have and all the people who have come on board. It’s going to take everybody always supporting each other.”

If you would like more information on LFL Lego Family night, or have further questions feel free to call 307-837-2296.


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