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LEGOs Help Elementary School Kids "Construct" Stories

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When elementary school students play with LEGOs, they could be working on their next writing class assignment. NY1's Technology reporter Adam Balkin filed the following report.

Second through fifth graders at P.S. 188 in Coney Island, Brooklyn are playing with LEGOs in school as part of their writing curriculum. Thanks to a program called "LEGO Education Story Starter," the building blocks help create a story.

Students first spin a wheel to determine who, when, and where the story will take place and be about. They then start to form the story in their head while building it out of LEGOs. Once the pieces are all in place on the LEGO board, the theory is that pieces will fall more easily into place when it comes time to actually write the story.

"All the things you find in the literary world, this is designed to deliver with a hands-on component because that's the really critical piece of it," says Stephan Turnipseed of LEGO Education. "By building this physical metaphor, they can then discuss aspects of it and then take notes about what they want to do in their story."

Once students are done with their LEGO creations, they then take a computer, take pictures of their creations, and make online, digital comic strips.

Teachers at P.S. 188 say giving students physical and then digital tools makes writing more fun and makes the children want to participate more because it engages them more.

"The fact that they get to create something they're going to be writing about makes them more eager to want to write," says Evan Mirenberg, a teacher at P.S. 188. "Some of them didn't know how to get started before this Story Starter kit. They have a perfect jumping point of where they can start their story and the direction it should flow towards."

It probably comes as little surprise that throwing LEGOs into any lesson is something the students support.

"I like it because you can build it with your hands and then build it with your brain," says one student.

LEGO has given Story Start kits to 50 schools across the nation to both test it out and cultivate a support group for teachers when it officially goes on sale in January. LEGO says the cost of the set for a class of 20 is about $500.

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