Game 6: Lego Brain Games: Follow the Instructions!

This is a continuation of a previous post titled: Game 5: Lego Brain Games: Make sets!

GAME # 6. Follow the Instructions!: This is a great game for kids who can’t read yet (and even better for kids who can!). You can turn this game into a listening game, reading game or even an inspection/quality control game depending on what you would like your child to work on.

Basically, you write down a list of 5-6 colors (of the Legos you have) on a piece of paper and your child has to build a tower exactly as your “instructions” are written. The color at the bottom of the list is the color that will be at the bottom of the tower.

DSCF4514 copy

You all know how to get your own child excited about something, sometimes it takes a little overacting ;). With Paddy: I start by pretending i found something brand new, “…Hey Paddy! What are these?! (holding the cards as if I just found them and he runs over to check out this new mystery thing) “What is it Mama?” (Here he feels empowered by his mother relying on him! to solve a mystery. With this new task, he really gives it a good investigation) He reads them & realizes they’re color words and I say, “Do you think they could be instructions for building Lego towers!? Should we try it out?!” and I love when he says, “SURE!!!”

(listening game version): With your child in front of a pile of Lego bricks, start reading from your paper instructions. You can read from bottom to top or top to bottom, just make sure you describe the orientation to your little listener. You can read them one color at a time and wait for your child to find each piece, or you can read them off as a list (2-3 colors at a time is good for a younger child) to force them to use their short term memory. After the tower is complete, tell your child that we need to “check our work!” As you read the instructions again, let your child say “check!” whenever the color on the paper matches the color on the tower built. At the end of the quality control session have your child say, “all correct!” and watch the proud smile develop on his/her face. I played this with Paddy a few nights ago and he preferred to read the instructions to me. So we played that way, while I listened (and I purposefully made a few mistakes).

(reading game version): This is a great game for practicing reading color words. You can make a little cheat sheet with the words in their corresponding color, like this RED, BLUE, GREEN, YELLOW, BLACK, BROWN etc…

DSCF4513If your child already knows how to sound words out or read these words on their own, don’t add the cheat sheet, let them figure it out themselves! 🙂 Once they complete the tower, have them check their own work by re-reading the paper and double checking the tower. Alternatively, you can check their work first and if you find a mistake, tell them, “whoops! I found one mistake.” Don’t tell them where the error is, just have them find it and correct it before handing it back to you again. High-five!

Lego Brain Game #6: early reading to practice color words and following direction practice in one simple game!

Paddy checking his work by re-reading the list of colors and looking at the tower he made.

(Inspection/Quality Control game version): This one takes a little more preparation on your end. Make a few instruction pages and a tower for each. It’s important to build 1 tower that has a mistake in them for your child to spot. Have your child check your work. Don’t tell them you made any mistakes, pretend you are very proud of your work. When your child finds your mistakes, have him/her tell you which towers have mistakes, where the mistakes are and what to do to fix the mistake. This is great practice for kids when they are old enough to have homework.

After you correct all the towers, and you still want to play some more…you can put all the completed towers in a row together, pretend you accidentally got them all mixed up, act a bit confused and say something like, “uh oh. I can’t seem to figure out which tower goes with which instruction sheet! Can you help me figure it out?!?” Mwahh haa haa! More reading and matching practice without them knowing it! 🙂

Lego Brain Game #6: early reading to practice color words and following direction practice in one simple game!

Silly Mama got them all mixed up!

Following the instructions and checking our work is something we will probably end up doing thousands of times in our lives. We have to do this anytime we learn a new technique or skill, put together a piece of furniture we bought at Ikea, trying to troubleshoot a piece of equipment at work etc.

So lets teach our child to be patient, read the instructions & check our work to prevent mistakes. If they do it right the first time, i think they”ll be a lot happier in the end.

And this is why Legos are the best toy you can buy your kid! A million ways to play!

When I was a working mom, some days I would come home so mentally drained. I would bring out Paddy’s Legos and invite Paddy to come play with me. I called it my Lego Therapy. 😉

That’s the last game I have for you guys this week. If I come up with more, I’ll post it as a continuation of this series.

That said, I hope you enjoy your Lego Therapy after a hard day’s work!! and I hope your little ones enjoy all these mini challenges! And of course, the whole fun of Lego is letting your child’s imagination go wild and letting them build whatever they want to. If your child is not in the mood for a little challenge, no big deal! At least you have some ideas ready if your child does wants to play a game with you.


chalkboard fox copy signed


Game 5: Lego Brain Games: Make sets!

This is a continuation of a previous post titled: Part 4: Lego Brain Games: Make This Structure!

Lego Brain Games #5: Making sets is a fun way to practice observation skills and sorting by color and shape!

5. Make 2 Sets!: Dump some Legos out on the floor between two containers. Your child has to find a pair from a mess of Legos on the floor and put one in his container and put the other one in your container. It combines finding matches of both color & shape with a sense of sharing, “one for me, one for you”.

(Note: This is a great sorting activity to do before playing the game I posted yesterday called “Make this Structure!” so each player has the same pieces to work with. )

Lego Brain Games #5: Making sets is a fun way to practice observation skills and sorting by color and shape!

a pile of Legos. Most do not have a match, but a few do have matches.

Lego Brain Games #5: Making sets is a fun way to practice observation skills and sorting by color and shape!

Paddy found one of the pairs!

This game uses your child’s observation skills. In a mess, your child has to find the pairs, some pieces don’t have pairs which makes it tricky for our younger ones. It may seem easy as an adult, but it can be overwhelming for a young child. It takes patience and some mental organization to detect a match.

(More difficult): An alternative idea with this game is for your child to sort some sets and then build identical structures using them, and here is a picture of Paddy working on that. I helped him by giving him pieces in triplicate and he started building identical sets! And he even decided where the pieces would go on his own. It was amazing to watch him work.

Lego Brain Games #5: Making sets is a fun way to practice observation skills and sorting by color and shape!

Paddy building three identical sets.

I have one more game in the Lego Duplo series to post for tomorrow. Hope you are enjoying them! 🙂


Lego Brain Game #4: Make this structure: practice observation skills

Game 4: Lego Brain Games: Make This Structure!

This is a continuation of a previous post titled Part 3: Lego Brain Games: Lego Permutations!

GAME # 4. Make this structure!: Similar to the Copy my tower! game, this game adds another dimension to the challenge. If you have a younger child, offer him/her only the pieces needed to copy the structure you make. If you have an older kid, just let him/her find the pieces from the main pile. Then, take turns and let your child build something that you have to replicate. (IMPORTANT TO ADD: While you are building a replica of his or her structure.. be sure to sometimes make a single mistake and let the child “check your work!”. If your child is paying attention, he or she will spot your mistake! How proud you will be when your child corrects you! This also instills confidence in a child, knowing that everyone makes mistakes and of course he/she will feel amazing that he or she is right and you, the adult, are wrong!)

Lego Brain Game #4: Make this structure: great way to practice observation skills

Here’s Paddy finishing up…

Lego Brain Game #4: Make this structure: great way to practice observation skills

It seems so easy to build a little structure from just looking at it (no instructions), but for a 2-4 year old child it is an important challenge. Not only does your child have to put the correct colored pieces in the exact locations, he or she has to orient the piece to face the correct way. There are hundreds of Lego building instructions and this is how most kids play with Lego. To be able to do this, a child needs to focus and have an attention to detail.

Detail orientation is a wonderful skill to nurture in your child, it will help them study new subjects, follow directions, troubleshoot, correct/learn from their mistakes, prevent mistakes to lead them to success. It is one thing I feel I have practiced with myself over the years. It has helped me in my scientific career as well as in my hobbies of drawing, sewing and knitting. Practice these skills with your child and always remind him or her to take care in what they do. Because sometimes the little things matter greatly.

Another game for you all tomorrow!


Game 3: Lego Brain Games: Lego Permutations!

This is a continuation of a previous post titled: Game 2: Brain Games: Copy my Tower!

Here’s the 3rd Lego Brain Game…

GAME #3. Lego Permutations!:

(easier version) Make a few mini towers like the ones shown in the picture below and show your child. Ask him or her “Are any of these little towers the same?” It takes some brain work to compare them all and recognize that they all unique in their own color order. Teach your little one that even though each tower has the same three colors, each tower is different. Put two of them right next to each other and let your child tell you how they are different.

(more difficult) Pick three colors of square bricks and make a pile. Have your child make as many different color permutations as they can with three different colors (without including repeating colors). (Difference between a combination and a permutation? In a permutation, the order matters.) There will be 6 permutations with 3 colors. Can he or she construct them all below? If there is a match, one them has to change.


Quick math refresher for the adults

Calculating # of possible permutations without repetition of objects (in this example colors)

An exclamation point in math does not signify how awesome a number is. It’s called a “factorial function“, and it simply means to multiply the numbers descending from the number written before the “!” .

For example, the activity in my example above will use the formula 3! Because we have only 3 colors to choose from. The number of permutations that can be created with these 3 colors is calculated like this…

3! = 3 × 2 × 1 = 6

4 colors would have 24 different permutations

4! = 4 × 3 × 2 × 1 = 24

Anyway, As I get back on track here, this Lego permutations game idea came up when I was reminiscing about games I used to play as a kid. When I was younger, my parents bought me the game: Mastermind.


Mastermind is an incredible critical thinking game. I cannot wait until Paddy is old enough to play it. Basically one player creates a 4 color permutation behind the secret flip down door. The 2nd player, using positive feedback about which colors are in the correct position and which colors are in the sequence, must use trial & error and logic to figure out the correct order of colors. (And the tricky thing is, there are more than 4 colors to choose from!) It is a great game for your child. I highly recommend it!

Game # 4 tomorrow!


Game 2: Lego Brain Games: Copy my Tower!

This is a continuation of a previous post titled: Game 1: Lego Brain Games: Finish the Pattern!

Here’s the next game.

GAME # 2. Copy my tower!: The title pretty much explains the game, here you make a patterned mini tower of bricks and your child has to copy your design and make a replica. When I played this with Paddy, he tried to copy me and race to match my tower AS I was building it. So it became a very fast game using his powers of observation. I tried to make my tower faster, before he caught up to me and we ended up laughing so hard. Then when it was his turn to build the tower, he kept making changes and flipping colors around while I was frantically trying to keep up with him.


Try it with your little one and see how he or she responds to it.

Being an observant person and being able to quickly process the things going on around us is such an important survival skill. Noticing changes, picking something specific out of a pile, being able to react quickly … this is what I saw in Paddy while we were playing this game. I grabbed a second blue block, he was frantically putting a yellow block on his tower and using his peripheral vision, he grabbed a blue block for his replica. I realized how great this game was for him. He was fully aware during this short time and I thought it was amazing to watch.

It reminded me of how much kids learn by copying their parents. Children are natural observers, they are always watching you, copying what you say, picking up your habits…

So this year, lets allow those mimicking children in our lives to bring out the best in us, help us become aware of our faults and motivate us to be better people.

Check back tomorrow for another fun game!


Game 1: Lego Brain Games: Finish the Pattern!

Who doesn’t love Legos?! Kids love Legos but they love it 1000X more if a grownup is playing with them. Paddy is constantly asking, “Mama, will you play Legos with me?”

If you have access to some Duplo Lego bricks and in a mood to have some tummy time with your child after work… I have come up with 6 totally fun & slightly challenging mental workouts to try on your kids! (If they’re in the mood!) Most days all Paddy wants to do is take ALL the blocks for himself to build a giant truck.

I tested all of these games on Paddy and he responded very well. It was so relaxing and fun. I made him eager to try it by showing him the Lego board all set up as shown below and saying, “Hey I made this great new game for you with your LEGOS! Wanna try it?” and he thought that was the best idea ever! 😀 I explained the rules to him and asked him, “Are you ready to win all these games!?’ and he got pumped.

GAME # 1. Finish the Pattern!: You make a pattern with square blocks and provide some free blocks for your child to choose from (make sure the correct answers are in the pile!) to correctly complete the pattern. Shown below, I made the first pattern easy, then harder and harder. See what level your child is on and make more mini quizzes like that. (Note: Only put out a few bricks for a younger child to select from, too many bricks in the pile would completely confuse him/her.)


or you can try different sized pieces and colors…


Try it out with your kids this week. If you don’t have Legos, you can just draw colored dots on a piece of paper. (but items they can hold are much more fun)

Pattern recognition has a very high correlation with general intelligence. Most IQ tests contain a question like this

[ 2 – 3 – 5 – 8 – 12 – ___ ] What number comes next?

The answer is 17, can you see why? (the difference between each number follows the pattern 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

If you introduce pattern recognition to you child at a young age, I am 100% positive it will benefit his/her math skills & ability to make good predictions in life.

Try to come up with more complex patterns then the examples I provided and teach your little one how to read them. When Paddy sees a pattern he says, “this says red, green, red, green...” Encourage your child to say the colors out loud to increase his/her understanding.

Paddy just recently figured out how to do the puzzles in the picture above and he’s 3 and a half. So, be patient if your child doesn’t get it right away.

So maybe you can take some time to work on this this weekend with your little cutie. Make it a fun game and they will love the quality time spent with you.

Have a wonderful Friday and a fun filled weekend!