For his birthday, my son received several LEGO and MegaConstrux sets. We like Pokémon so the Pikachu set was the first one we tackled. (The whole party was themed Pokémon/Soccer as evidenced by our Rice Krispie Pokéballs.)
As I worked through this project with my kids, we learned several things about each other.
Checking Off Instructions is Helpful
The instructions for Pikachu are spread out over two books and 100+ steps. Some of the steps require multiple blocks connected into complicated configurations. Everything is illustrated with very few words. I am not afraid to say that I, the adult, had some issues. The kids were intimidated by the complexity of the instructions.
In order to organize, we set up a system of checkmarks that made each step more physically meaningful. The first task of each step was to identify the pieces required for the step. We would checkmark each piece and lay it out exactly as depicted. Then we would follow the steps one by one using a checkmark for each step.
Was it time consuming? Yes. Did we spend quality family time while doing this? Yes. Was it worth it? Totally. Working with the kids to work through a project is much more important than being time efficient. Actually, it was probably efficient too. We knew exactly where we were at all times.
Attention Spans Vary by Day
There are lots of variables to attention span. The time of day is a big factor but also the activities of the day. On days when the kids had standardized testing, we would build for 5 minutes. On other days, after a bike ride or soccer, we might be able to build for 25 minutes. Regardless, if I did not want to build the whole thing by myself, I had to be sensitive and responsive to the attention level of the kids.
I am naturally goal oriented but this was the type of project where I needed to enjoy the time of doing and not rush towards the end goal.
This building project took us 2 weeks but every day we were excited to work together to get a little bit more done.
Teamwork is Fun when the Goal is Set
One son is a master sorter and instruction giver. He likes to check off each step. He does not actually like building the set and gets very frustrated when pieces do not fit together super easily.
The other son takes his time building but likes to go off the path. He is not super interested in following the instructions and is pretty sure he can build without them.
Very different building styles but complementary when working on a big project. Luckily, we all agreed at the beginning that we wanted to complete the Mega Pikachu. So, it was easy to know our roles on the team. One built while the other checked and when one got bored they were happy to let me take over for them until the other was ready to finish.
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