Friday, February 1, 2013

All to Pieces

How do you get your students motivated to write? Throughout the year, I have little tricks that I pull out to get my students excited again and again. One is a LEGO writing activity. Who doesn't love those little pieces all over the floor?

First, the students get into groups of three. If you have more than three group members, it can get to be too many hands or one person winds up simply sitting and watching the others. I assign tasks: recorder, designer, and contractor. The students decide in their groups who will complete each task.

After the jobs have been chosen, I tell the students they have a very important job to do today; they have to design and construct a functional item with their LEGOS, but they also have to write very detailed instructions for other groups in the classroom to be able to rebuild it using only the instructions. You can immediately see their eyes light up! It is great! Those wheels are already turning, and they cannot wait for me to quit talking so they can get busy.

I have a classroom helper hand each group their buckets of LEGOS. The students can only work with the pieces they are given. The groups dump their pieces out in their assigned work areas. (Now, this is the part where my "everything has to be clean and tidy" characteristic has to take a backseat and let those little pieces scatter everywhere.)

Each student assumes his/her role. The recorder has the hardest job in my opinion because this person has to document every piece and sometimes those pieces change and the instructions have to be changed as well. The designer has to come up with the idea and tell the recorder step-by-step what pieces are being used and how they are being used.

The contractor gets to put the pieces together to see if it is all going to fit together. The designer works closely with the contractor and makes changes if needed. The recorder is still frantically trying to write down all they are doing.

The students work to make sure their item works properly and will serve a function. 

This is a finished product. This group built a garage with a ramp to park their utility vehicle. I believe they used all but seven pieces out of the the ones they were given.

One thing that I love about this writing activity is the students are all fully engaged and participating. I have never had a student not want to participate in this activity. After each group is finished, the new items are taken apart. The recorder writes or types a final instruction manual. On the next day, the groups exchange buckets of LEGOS and instuction manuals. They construct another group's item to see if the instructions match the item.

It is a wonderful writing activity, and it is definitely an activity the students continue to talk about all year. What methods do you use to motivate your students to write?

I hope everyone has a HAPPY FRIDAY!


  1. I love this! I want to head out this weekend and buy some LEGOS so I can give this a try! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Your students would love it! I can get even my reluctant students to participate. It is a win-win!

  2. LOVE IT! Especially since I have soooooo many LEGOS in my house. My son is an avid LEGO builder so I've seen how into it kids can get. Thanks so much for the idea. What a creative way to motivate students.
    :0) Melissa
    More Time 2 Teach

    1. Thank you for your comment! Put those LEGOS to work! :)

  3. What a fun project for writing instructions! I used to do something like this with drawing, but I like this idea for those kids who love building. Thanks for sharing :)

    1. It is so much fun to see what they come up with.

  4. This is so very cool- I think my 5th graders would love it. 2 quick questions.
    1. How many buckets of Legos do you need?
    2. About how long does it take? I only have around 20 minutes for writing each day so I know I would need to extend it, but just wondering a ballpark figure.

    Thanks so much!!
    http ://

    1. It would take a bucket per group. The other day I did have to put four students in a couple of groups. It depends on how many students you have in a class. I have been collecting them over the years, but before I had even to go around, I would ask my students if any of them had LEGOS at home. I always had some that had them, and would bring them in. I just made sure that these were kept separate and counted to make sure the student got all of them back. It normally takes my students two class periods to design and build their item. Then I give then another class period to write their manual. I have 50 minute class periods. I hope this helps! I know your students would love it!

  5. Love this idea! Thank you. :)

  6. I really like this particular! I wish to go out this particular weekend break and purchase a few LEGOS and so i can provide this particular an attempt! Many thanks with regard to discussing.
    lol boost


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