Storytelling with LEGO #KeepBuilding

I bet you didn't know, but great storytellers are created with LEGO Bricks. Okay, maybe not just LEGO Bricks. Storytelling comes from learning legends, a big case of wonder, and hours of play.

As with many LEGO moms, I have learned to look for bricks while vacuuming or in pockets when doing laundry. I've also learned to give my Master-Builder-in-Training his space to build that I clean around (read: completely ignore). When he's on a special building and storytelling tear, his LEGO bricks will get into absolutely everything and be everywhereI'll get frustrated at him for leaving his bricks and pieces scattered, but then I'll see him working intently at the coffee table on a new build, his face looking just like it did when he opened up his first box so many years ago, and my heart melts... until I step on a brick.

My son can spend hours a day playing with his LEGO bricks. When he digs through all the thousands of pieces in his LEGO bin (which he lovingly refers to as The Void), it sounds like a waterfall of plastic pouring down. That is the sound of imagination and ideation. Sometimes, I'll hear a loud "FOUND IT" come from his room. I never know what he's been missing, but I know that he's working on a new build... and a new story.

Picture/Story (above): These mini-figs are from different Chima sets. The legend of Chima is that the Phoenix, gods of the sun, decided to create a world, making their base on a large planet. They created all life on the planet: Mammoths, Tigers, Saber Tooths, Avians, Lions, Monkeys, Crocodiles... all KINDS of animal peoples. The Saber Tooths and their allies rebelled against the Phoenix, and started a war. Then came The Great Illumination, which backfired. It's a long story... and my son loves to tell us all about it.

He was only four when I bought him his first LEGO character, a Bionicle. (He's VERY excited that they're bringing them back!) The first few builds, we did together. As we built, he told me about the importance of the pieces, for instance the Bionicle mask gives each character different abilities and powers. Every few weeks, we'd go back to the store for a new character. We'd stand in those aisles for EVER deciding between characters. He had to decide which special pieces and powers he most wanted. Sometimes, I'd just throw up my hands, buy him two and be done with it. The minute we got home, he'd tear open the box. I'd stand over him to make sure he laid out all the pieces and got organized first, then I'd hand him his instruction book and let him start building. As his build came together, I'd listen to him tell me all about the legend of that particular character. It became our weekly ritual... our Mother/Son time.

Picture/Story (above): Eris's brother took her jet out for a spin and decided it wasn't fast enough... so he made it ten times faster by adding three more engines and deleting excess parts. This particular ship is used for rescue missions, so speed is key. Eris is a main character in Chima. Her story is that she was just an average avian until the Phoenix contacted her and gave her a mission .

Every character that came home added to the stories that my son told. I started to understand that the fun wasn't just in building the thing on the box... the fun was also in making those pieces of plastic come to life through story. He learned the legends of all of his characters and began to come up with new story lines and adventures for them. His favorite LEGO sets are fertile storytelling ground: Star Wars, Chima, Ninjago. all complete with their own legends. His plot twists will come to him at the most random times. We'll be at the kitchen table having dinner and his eyebrows will arch up. That's how I know there's a story coming. Sometimes, it's a design theory, but other times, it's a good-guy-gone-bad plot twist or a plan to rescue some rebels from a precarious situation that he dreamed up that afternoon.

Picture/Story (above): This is a 2-in-1 vehicle. It includes a fighter jet and deployable mini cruiser (back) called The Griffin. Clockwork Lion is flying the chopper up front with Leonitis ready to deploy in the cruiser. The mini cruiser was added on to the original chopper with "spare parts" that my son dug up from his treasure trove of pieces... a.k.a. The Void.

Except for the Millenium Falcon, the LEGO sets we bring home never stay as they were meant to be. He builds them once, proudly shows me his build, telling me all about the features of the vehicle or character, and almost immediately, begins dismantling the original, creating hybrids with special technologies or powers ("spare parts" from The Void) that continue any one of his current character stories. 

This is still our ritual. I'll take him to the store and stand in the aisle for EVER waiting for him to decide. He tells me why he has to have more than one. Every now and then, I give in. He rushes home to tear open his box and starts building, tells me all about it and more. Most of the time, I just smile and nod not really understanding where his characters are on his story line (it's hard to pay attention to details when I'm making dinner and he's sticking his latest design in my face) but I try not to get frustrated or agitated at him. 

He's my little storyteller... and I love him.