Grow in imagination
Building bricks are an enormously popular toy among children and adults.
That should be no surprise as they're just about perfect for creative play. Brick building gets our brains firing on all cylinders--releasing positive hormones and building robust neural networks--as we play and learn. Whatever lessons you teach kids (or adults) about Jesus while they are building with bricks literally get built into their brains.
The key is play!
What the best brain science tells us is that your goal should be to create an environment that has adult scaffolding to free up space for exploration and learning through play, so that kids develop neural mechanisms in their prefrontal cortex for proactive control like problem solving, planning, regulating and identifying emotions (learn more).
Adult scaffolding is NOT giving a child a pre-built kit to play with, it IS giving them resources and examples and challenging them to complete a goal, like using instructions to build a brick kit, or, better yet, free play with building bricks.
Adult scaffolding is NOT completing a building step for a child, it IS engaging a child's curiosity to problem solve through the step.
Adult scaffolding is NOT telling a child that there is a right or a wrong way for a creative project or activity, it IS giving the child support and freedom to make what they can imagine.
When you give kids the opportunity for this kind of exploration and learning, their brains literally get bigger. Their brains and bodies get flooded with endorphins and serotonin. Endorphins make you feel more positive, improve immune response, and reduce stress. Serotonin boosts neurotransmission to improve memory and learning and even counteracts depression while improving sleep.
Brick Books cannot imagine that Jesus would be anything but thrilled with an activity that did all of this for a kid (or adult).
But wait, there's more. Discoveries in neuroplasticity have shown that adults can actually grow new neural pathways too. You're never too old to grow new brain cells, and all you have to do is play with building bricks!
what are specific ways to use building bricks with kids?
-incorporate brick elements like crosses or a chalice -have a play area for kids -use brick art in bulletins or on screen
-use bricks as a brainstorming tool -create memorable minifig portrayals of faith figures -allow brick storytelling as a project option
-use brick building time as a reward -send home brick building challenges -tell stories through brick
-set up an ever-growing brick village -hold worship art brick challenges -host brick events or fundraisers
-create a brick room or area for free play -hold fun brick building challenges like bridges -have a summer-long building project
-engage families with brick building activities -make reboxing bricks for less fortunate kids a service-learning project -emphasize brick storytelling
About Brick books' creator
Dan (he/him) is a Deacon of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Dan has served in children, youth, and campus ministries. Dan first heard the call to ministry through Black Liberation Theology as an undergrad at Wittenberg University and discovered his gifts for sharing that theology creatively while in seminary at Yale Divinity School. His greatest passions are serving kids and advocating for justice in fulfilling God's promised kingdom. These days, you're likely to find Dan knee deep in excited kids, building bricks, or pages of new poetry and children's lit. You might also find him outside tending to his small duck farm.