THE BERKSHIRES — True confession: I brought a bucket of Legos with me to college.
Seriously. Building with them relaxed me during stressful times. I kept those Legos until a fire destroyed many of my belongings in 2002. When my daughter was born in 2005, I couldn’t wait until she was old enough to have Legos, setting the stage when she was a toddler and preschooler by purchasing those giant Mega Blocks that were pretty fun themselves.
Within the last year or so, Noelle has amassed a collection of Legos of all colors and sizes. While I would not call them her favorite toy, she does create some amazing scenes when she puts her mind to it. We really enjoyed visiting the Lego store during a Christmas Day excursion to Downtown Disney in Florida (see the accompanying picture; yes, Woody and Buzz are made of Legos!) and she does read the Lego magazine that now comes free to our home.
Our only house rule about the Legos is that we don’t allow kits that form specific things. My feeling is what good are Legos if they don’t encourage imagination? (I might be adding a second rule: No Lego “Friends,” the new “Legos for girls.” What? Girls can’t play with red and blue toys?)
It’s that sparking of children’s imaginations that seems to be the driving force of myriad Lego-themed activities for kids all around the Berkshires. Many libraries, including the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield, Bushnell Sage Library in Sheffield and the Ramsdell Library in Housatonic , have Lego Clubs for kids. Even the Lenox Library got in on the action when it held a Lego Build-A-Thon event on March 16. And now Child Care of the Berkshires’ Family Resource Center will kick off a Lego “Creation Station” for children 5 to 8 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20.
At the Berkshire Athenaeum, Keri Warfield, the Children’s Library first assistant, said the library started the Lego Club last fall to offer something for older elementary school-aged children. The club meets once a month — every third Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. — and has a different theme, like “Build your Dream House” or “Favorite Foods.”
“I wanted a place for kids to come and for one hour they can come and be kids, make friends with other Lego enthusiasts, and use their imaginations,” she said.
Warfield said boys and girls from 4 to 13 years old come to the club, which had 120 kids during February vacation.
“And hopefully it will just keep growing and growing,” she said.
Its growth actually sparked the Family Resource Center’s new “Creation Station.” A parent who attended the Berkshire Athenaeum Lego Club approached CCB with the idea to start one in North Adams, according to Sandra King of Child Care of the Berkshires. The parent, Shannon Barrett, and CCB staff hashed out the details, and the new program was born.
King said it fits into the Family Resource Center’s mission providing fun, quality programming for North County youths, and this helped expand their offerings for the school-aged children. (Note that advance registration is required to 413-664-4821 as space is limited.)
“Legos are a great tool for developing many educational skills, such as, fine motor skills, problem solving, estimating, patterns and creativity, as well as STEM (science, technology, engineering and math),” King said. “We are excited to provide materials and space for Lego-maniacs to let their imaginations go wild and create.”
And who says those Lego-maniacs have to be kids?
For a schedule of Lego Club in Berkshire County click here.