LEGO® bricks in the classroom are proving irresistible to learners and pre-service teachers alike, who discover that play and learning are not so different.
Researchers in the Faculty of Education at the North-West University (NWU) are using the brightly coloured plastic bricks for the practical component of pre-service teacher training programmes. They hope to inspire change and progress in teaching methods within the university student body and the broader community.
This unique programme combines hands-on experiential learning with traditional theoretical education, facilitated by a partnership with the non-profit organisation Care for Education. The project exemplifies the value of collaboration among academic institutions, non-profit organisations, and community stakeholders, and is championed by Prof Elma Marais and Prof Carolina Botha.
Transforming classrooms into creative spaces
As a part of their first-year professional orientation programme, BEd students enrolled in the teaching practice modules are gifted a set of LEGO® Six Bricks.
Training sessions are organised to guide them on how to use these LEGO® bricks in teaching. Known for their simplicity, the bricks are versatile tools capable of transforming a traditional classroom into a space filled with creativity, engagement, and interactive learning.
In the second semester, the first-year students are expected to apply their learning by incorporating LEGO® Six Bricks into their lesson presentation during their four-week placement at partner schools.
However, this community outreach programme extends beyond student involvement.
The university is training teachers across several educational institutions on the potential benefits and application of LEGO® Six Bricks in teaching. These efforts are not limited to institutions where the BEd students complete their practice but extend to other organisations and schools that align with the vision of enriching teaching practices.
Partners who share a vision
Partner organisations include schools like ES le Grange in Potchefstroom and Pathways in Bethlehem, non-profit organisations such as Ethembeni in Roodepoort and Lifting Dreams in Potchefstroom, as well as Toevlug Primary in Ventersdorp and Pansdrif Primary in Brits.
“The initiative has begun to gain traction, resulting in an expanding network of training partners interested in applying innovative teaching methods,” says Prof Marais.
This collaborative project highlights the potential of such partnerships in bridging the gap between theory and practice.
Teaching practice modules are not the only area where the LEGO® Six Bricks are being used within the Faculty of Education.
In the Psycho-Social Education subject group, Jaco van der Merwe and colleagues have been working with Stilfontein Primary School and President Pretorius Primary School.
They train all their honours students to use LEGO® Six Bricks to facilitate sessions with learners.
The students complete their practical hours at Potchefstroom Hospital, where they use the six bricks as part of their sessions with the children in the wards. The use of LEGO® Six Bricks is not only educational but also a fun-filled experience for the children.
Training sessions were also conducted with Vyfhoek Primary School.
Prof Elma Marais
Prof Elma Marais presents training at Mphe-Thuto Primary School in collaboration with Ethembeni.