Saturday, May 12, 2012

I wish we'd had Legos when I was growing up!

Augie earned his new Lego fire chief's car this week, by completing more columns of shapes. He never loses his enthusiasm for adding new vehicles to the fire-fight. 

Imaginative fire-fighting units respond to the alarm!
He is now better equipped than many small cities:
* a fire station with two garages and a tower (with tiny sleeping quarters, a lounge, and a command center)
* a ladder unit and a rescue vehicle that came with the fire station
* four specialized vehicles including an off-road one especially for forest fires
* 7 tiny firefighters, each equipped with a different combination of facial features and equipment
* great hopes for a helicopter, airplane, and gigantic fire-fighting boat

Ready to don their helmets
Augie has named each of his firefighters and assigned them roles based on their equipment. The first were Joey, Freddy, and Toby. Then came Extinguicell, Transessor, Transeco, Distinguicell, Transolo, and Chief Seressor.

Say what? The first time he said "Extinguicell," I thought, "He's looking at the guy's fire extinguisher, but in five minutes he won't remember the name he made up." I should know better. Augie doesn't forget. What's more, he treats all the names exactly the same. I like that. It makes me believe that when he meets kids named Abdi and Pang and Anousone he'll take their names in stride. (Actually, he and Vi already have classmates with what we used to consider unusual names, and they do take them in stride.)

In the command center
I've learned some things about Legos. If you like assembling things, you love them because they're so precise. But the play value doesn't end there. You can change them around, borrow from this piece and add to that one. You can supplement your "grownup" small-size Legos with the bigger Duplos you've been playing with since you were two. You can take apart your enormous Duplo zoo, perhaps leaving behind all the animals but reusing the building blocks and little people.

Best of all, you can create endless stories with everything you create. Theoretically, boys don't do this as much as girls do. But Augie spends hours setting up and narrating fire scenarios, directing the firefighters (and the occasional grandma) to this floor of the hotel to lead out all the cooks or another floor to lead out the guests ("And tell them not to spend time looking for pets or purses or stuff!"). We usher imaginary fire victims onto waiting buses and drive them to the hospital or a shelter. Augie likes to take the ones who are okay directly to the fire station so they can begin training to be firefighters.

Equipped and ready to roll
Legos can also help you learn negotiating skills, campaigning with your grandparents for fire-related sets, with your parents for Star Wars, and with whomever will listen for Alien Invaders. And you can learn life skills. Augie scans the package inserts to see what other sets are available. We've talked about how retailers promote toys and sometimes make them look better than they really are, and how we need to be aware of that.

One recent day, Peter remarked, "You sure do like Legos. But how come you keep wanting more?"

Replied Augie, "They advertised me up."

That may be, but we're the ones who keep buying. Not just because Augie asks, but because they are so amazingly fun for both him and us. Seriously. I have my eye on a ginormous R2-D2 that comes out this week. They didn't even have to advertise me up; I saw it on a friend's Facebook page.

(ViMae's experiences with Legos, including the new "Friends" series for girls, will get a separate post.)


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