Six Bricks

To inspire life-long learning through the engagement of concrete manipulatives which challenge and empower educators and children to make positive changes in their development.

LEGO Care for Education believes that learning should take place through construction rather than instruction, and that many more concrete, tactile tools or manipulatives should be used, not only to stimulate and encourage the learners, but to greatly accelerate the conceptualisation process and to allow children to become more inventive, curious and creative.

We observed just how valuable the use of concrete manipulatives was in the foundation phase and how much more engaged the children seemed to be when working with their own concrete tools – building an understanding of ideas, concepts, language, numeracy and the world around them.

We were looking for a more scalable, cost effective and simpler solution for schools in South Africa. We already understood that as a country we had to go back to basics. We know that perceptual development is poor and children are missing out on crucial developmental areas.

At the time, we researched as much as we could around the relationship between concrete manipulation, learning and development. We were interested in how perceptual and motor skills could be developed, what activities and exercises could assist and how to keep the activities short yet engaging. Research indicated that children had to build outside their field of vision within five steps ( 5 manipulatives ) in order to remain engaged.

We found that five LEGO DUPLO bricks were the perfect size to do this, however this did not easily provide us with a middle point – and we knew we needed this for children to be able to cross the midline and for bilateral integration exercises. The sixth brick solved the problem – and hence the Six Bricks idea was born.

A group of Danish teachers visiting South Africa late in 2013 were exposed to the Six Bricks concept and went back to Denmark to try it out for themselves. They started a movement that has now spread to many other countries. The content has been translated into 8 languages and the LEGO Foundation has set up a special webpage and a Facebook community for Six Bricks enthusiasts. The content ( activities and videos ) is now freely available online. This has resulted in many teachers worldwide developing their own activities and sharing them. We have developed our own book for South Africa with over 300 activities. There is now an abundance of ideas and activities from which everybody can benefit.

What is Six Bricks?

Children learn best when they are encouraged to explore, interact, create and play. Play is the “work” of children; through play they develop their core learning skills – self regulation, creativity, curiosity, playfulness – and build the foundation for life-long learning. Constructive play requires a supportive environment provided by adults and manipulatives that encourage children to think, discover, learn, and problem solve. Using Six Bricks everyday creates a receptive environment in which the child builds confidence and positively engages with previously learned knowledge as well as new concepts.

The quick, daily activities are designed to develop mental readiness in which the child focuses and concentrates for a limited period of time. These short activities are initially teacher guided and provide opportunities for children to control and direct their own learning. Children thrive on success and love repeating any activity if they know they can get it right. The power of Six Bricks is not in how many activities you can do at one time but rather in the repetition of activities so that each child can experience the thrill of achievement.

There are various skills that go beyond pin grip, numeracy, literacy and academic learning, which six bricks all provide in abundance. Such skills include critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration and readiness for tertiary study and career choice. Developing these skills is critical in early and academic learning and forms the foundation for life-long learning.