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Friends of the Libraries: Legos at the library? Why, sure

August 20, 2013|By Mary Ellen Goddard

I read recently that surveys of the Los Angeles-Orange County region show that almost a quarter of our adult population lacks a high school diploma.

While Orange County itself probably has a higher average of high school graduates, this means that there is a great need for self-learning if people are to qualify for the jobs that can make this region stronger. Much of this learning, for everything from basic literacy to reading programs for all ages, is available at our public libraries.

One of the regular children's programs at the Mesa Verde and Dungan libraries in Costa Mesa involves playing with blocks — Duplos or Legos. I have been reporting on this for some time but wasn't sure about the educational value of these toys. So I finally looked at several articles, one of which is "Manipulatives: Tools for Active Learning" on the http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com website.

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The article explains that children learn the most when they are actively participating in the learning process. "Active learning encompasses the following educational areas — emotional, social, cognitive and physical."

Emotional learning is strengthened when playing with these blocks, because these "manipulative materials are predictable and reliable. Every time you act on them in a certain way, they respond the same way."

Socially, children learn to make friends and cooperate. Cognitively, a child learns relationships of pieces. Blocks give opportunities to learn about physical science and gain experience in "problem solving, creative thinking, spatial relations, decision making, observation, sorting, categorizing, estimating — all essential skills for later success in science."

As for physical learning, large and small muscles get used when children build with blocks. Blocks also help children develop eye-hand coordination.

The article lists many other materials that can develop these skills, including cooking utensils, bottle caps, cardboard tubes, sewing cards, and nuts and bolts. It addresses "art area" items, like fingerpaints, markers, ribbons, thread spools and many of the items used in craft programs.

OK. That was another question I was going to ask — "Why craft programs at the library?" Now I have a better understanding of what our children's programs do to promote education. I hope you do too.

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At the Costa Mesa/Donald Dungan Library

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