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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Our Little Legoland is sprawling with life.

From the tower of the castle the views are great across the river and downtown.
From the tower of the castle the views are great across the river and downtown.
Satellite view of  Downtown.
Satellite view of  Downtown.

There are lots of good stuff at the little café in the playground and park.
There are lots of good stuff at the little café in the playground and park.
Fire station, hospital and a postoffice are close by.
Fire station, hospital and a postoffice are close by.

Childrens play ground and the little café.
Childrens play ground and the little café.
The church is the centre piece in downtown. It was the first building appearing on the other side of the river.
The church is the centre piece in downtown. It was the first building appearing on the other side of the river.

A small city has appeared at home it measures 84cm by 180cm. We have completed the third phase on our massive Lego project. First we did the infrastructure, roads, river and hill where the castle was being built. Then we did the castle and the church. Finally over the last week we have been building alot. Houses, parks, cars, lights etc. The girls have been busy building, Karen contributes well on various parts and does smaller things, she is good at putting models with plans together like Fire trucks. Maud is mostly destroying, though she has evolved in the past months, now she assembles little men without help. She loves the cars. The park is largely Karen's design, the Café was completed today. Two of the villas where built by settlers from Helsinki when my brother and his wife came over. Nina is slowly building a townhouse. I think we have used maybe 4000 pieces to get this far. I plan to get the Café Corner set which is probably the most beautiful big set I ever seen. It brings real Legoland to the home, and by having it be a combination of big and smaller units, it provides challenge both to the children and to the parents. It  means some new community planning in our town, but that is what Lego is all about.

Some lessons learned.

1. Lego is great family fun. One of our favourite games is called 'Lego factory'. I am a builder in Legoland and Karen works for Lego. I call her and order pieces from the Lego factory. She then delivers them to the site. We also do it in reverse.

2. Plans are good for development. I think Karen still needs plans to build real looking stuff. When she has them she does great. When she lacks them she needs help, this is part of learning.

3. Let kids build freeform. I had observed Karen that she likes to build stuff which in my eyes looks weird, incomplete, I guess in her eyes it is cool To foster this I had the idea to incorporate old ruins into the city. I had done some basis for some ancient ruins and she completed the excavasion site. A great merger of freeform building, the City working men and machines like Front digger.

4. Eat the elephant one piece at a time. The help the kids construct without plans, make small projects. I pick out some needed pieces and then suggest things she can build from them. Tables, a flower stand. Sandpit in the park. playponds generally object familiar to a five year old.

5. Even a two and a half year old is not bored with Lego. The way to engage her is to let her mess around. I do not know how many times I have rebuilt the castle. She does destroy alot, but much less than 3 months ago. The little men are superb. Maud loves to put men into the buildings, drive the cars around and change hats, feet etc. on them. She can spend 2h around the Lego City, clearly without getting bored. When the Lego does not interest her, then she serves Tea to the workers in Legoland or takes her dolls to look at Legoland.

When I started this project, I was thinking this will be my project as I have small girls. To my amazement this has been a project that got everyone involved. As it has lasted around 3 months in elapsed time, Maud has gone from earthquake to regular storm. Karen has become solid contributor and Nina is contributing. My brother and his wife were instantly hooked ;-) I can warmly recommend anyone to build a City, it is easy to stack on a cabinet, and having it on the height of a coffee table lets big and small build ergonomically.

Now we will probably give it a rest and then come back and make improvements. I need to construct some cars and improve the castle. . .

 

I wish Lego would do more City stuff which would be gender agnostic. Like a bus, a family car, a small street café, a playground. I recently went to visit some friends and wanted to bring some Lego for the kids, they had two girls. I ended buying the Airplane, which turned out to be a huge success, but I was really nervous that they would think it was too 'boysie'

The Lego City advent calendar was great. It had lots of good City accessories. I would pay another €5 for it if the models would have a few pieces more each day. We bought 3 of them. 2 after Christmas at a good discount ;-). A offseason set like that could be great, a kind of City meets Creator. I loved the Creator house, we got two of those. I was sad to see that the new one was so similar to the old. I would immediately had bought it if it had black roof and bought two if it had come in sand colour. The ambulance, and fire trucks worked very well with Karen. The Street Sweeper was a hit with everyone, hard to find, but finally saw one at Hamley's.  I also wish that the City models would have more older style buildings. Café Corner is as I mentioned fantastic, but I would like to more in that genre. Maybe call it 'Old City' and make it interoperable with the modern world, just like the real world. I will not buy the Port, the Fireboats etc. they are too niche in my opinion.  I will get the garbage truck once it is out.

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