It all began with the school announcing a block making competition for the older one's class. What a great idea. Why didn't I have one of those in school when I was a kid, I wondered a little jealous. No, we had painful and boring hand writing competitions instead.
The older one and I started searching for blocks all over the house. Over the years she had got at least three large Duplo sets from various people. But between the older one and the younger one they had managed to deplete the blocks to a mere dozen. Those Duplo blocks are like socks. They must go somewhere, right? No one at home throws them away. Yet, miraculously, slowly but surely, a few at a time, they have disappeared, never to be found again.
The older one is five and a half, so perhaps she is old enough for Lego, I thought. In the last year she has been taking good care of her toys, so I decided to buy her a Classic Lego set, with loads of blocks meaning loads of possibilities.
A few days later we were super excited when the amazon delivery guy handed us the box. The older one ran to get the box cutter from Papa's room, but by the time she arrived with it, I had already ripped apart the packaging.
We opened up the big yellow Lego box and there they were, nearly five hundred blocks sorted by color and neatly packed in different plastic packets. We opened up a few and played around with them for a while making towers, robots and bridges that we usually made with Duplo.
"But what do I make for the competition Mama?" My daughter asked.
"Hmm. Right. That's why we got the blocks. Okay. Lets look through this book and see if we can find something interesting." I said leafing through a booklet of Lego construction ideas included in the box.
There were lots of little Lego models on the first page, but the book only included detailed instructions for a few. We made the wind mill, following the instructions, but my daughter did not think it was sufficiently impressive for the competition.
Then we noticed that the book mentioned, that the instructions for the remaining models, could be found on the website. So that's where we went, and there we found so many more possibilities.
My daughter really wanted to make the reindeer. It was so cute, we couldn't resist. But what's a reindeer without Santa? Of course, there were instructions for making a Santa too. And then we noticed the Christmas tree instructions. Now we could see something nice shaping up. "A Christmas scene!" My daughter exclaimed in delight and decided to make that for her competition. So we mounted all three figures on the big Lego board. But it still looked a little sparse.
"Can I put the windmill there too?" My daughter asked.
"I suppose so." I replied.
"But what would Santa be doing at a windmill?" She asked.
"You could make that in to a house." I suggested.
"Hmm. But, I like the windmill. It's fun to spin the blades."
"Then leave it like that. Santa could have stopped there to rest."
So we tried to mount the windmill on the board, but it was too broad to fit along with all the other stuff. So we had to take away a dear little section on the side. But then my daughter said "Mama, we can take off the windmill part and make a tall two story house, by putting this side section on top."
"But I thought you wanted the windmill part."
"I like my idea for the two story house even better. And look it is taller than the reindeer. A house should be taller than a reindeer, no Mama?"
"You are quite right baby." I was so thrilled my daughter was ready to improvise and create. As nice as a windmill may be, nothing beats your own design. She even put a chimney on top of the house for Santa to get through. Fortunately, she did not worry about Santa being far fatter than the chimney.
The Christmas scene looked gorgeous, and my daughter practiced making it a few times to ensure she could do it with in the time limit. She was also very careful to put away all the blocks, because she needed them all, for the set had exactly the right number of some pieces she needed. If she lost them, she would not be able to complete her scene.
After the competition, she was eager to try and build a car, she had thought was too complicated before. She did it all on her own, carefully following instructions. It turned out perfect.
Now the younger one was dying to play with the big new Lego set too. But the older one was worried she would lose the blocks. So I suggested we have a Lego party at home on the weekend, where all four of us play with the Lego together, and we could keep an eye on the younger one, making sure she did not lose any pieces. Mollified with the idea of a Lego party, the older one agreed.
We have an early dinner at 6:00. So the party began soon after that. We ate a little less for dinner than we usually do, to keep some room for a little pizza and ginger ale, to create the right party atmosphere.
We poured all the Lego blocks on the the floor and started making various things. The older one and I made this odd looking windmill castle.
The younger one teamed up with Papa to make an army of horses led by a robot. Go figure.
Then the older one had the idea to mount the robot on to a horse and set the robot horseman to guard our castle.
In the mean time Papa and the younger one tried to make Wall-E but he ended up looking like this.
The older one was now busy building a stall, so I worked on a swimming pool with a diving board and a kiddie pool area.
The older one then finished her stall and thoughtfully put a house next to it. I am not sure if the house belonged to the stall owner, or a customer.
Now that the younger one had been given permission to play with the Lego, it lost it's fascination, and she reverted to making her favorite bridge with her Duplo blocks.
We spent an hour and a half together having loads of family fun with the Lego. The next weekend, when the kids went to visit their grand parents, the older one pulled out the Lego set Papa had, when he was a boy, and made a Jeep all on her own. This time, she did not use any instructions and designed it herself.
Here is the front view.
My older daughter loves the Lego set, and now she puts away her blocks safely, because she now realizes that she needs a lot of different kinds of pieces and many of each, to make interesting things. So the Lego pieces are no longer disappearing in to oblivion, at least for the moment. Here is the latest car. It's basically the yellow car she had seen in the book, but more colourful, with a few minor design changes to the bonnet.