A Lego Literacy Connection

Question: How do you promote literacy using a bunch of Lego?

Answer: You create a Lego invitation for a virtual author visit!

Last week I was in the middle of sorting out a large donation of Lego that I’d just received for my makerspace. Lego has so much potential for making, but I couldn’t decide what I was going to do with it first. Just then, 2 books from the ridiculously popular ‘The 13 Story Treehouse‘ series slid back across my desk, and I was struck with the following idea:

The Challenge…

What if we had a school wide open ended challenge for students to help build ‘The 13 Story Treehouse’ out of Lego?

I found a table by the library entrance,  put a 20 pound bin of Lego and a grey base plate on it, set up the  following message, and then just stood back…

Lego challenge - build the 13 story tree house

After a few minutes my first students came trickling into the library. They read the message. They looked to me but I made myself scarce.  A debate ensued. Were they allowed to to use the Lego? What were they supposed to do? How were they supposed to do it?


A few students began to build…


Then a few more…


More classes came in to the library.


More building…


The students started to get pretty creative.


Over the next few days the build got pretty impressive


Things fell down, were improved upon, revised, changed…


Wonderful details were added from the story.


More stories were added.


We felt frustration as things frequently fell apart.


But ultimately something impressive began to emerge.


The students started talking about ideas like ‘support’ and ‘structural integrity’.


I even caught some parents coming in to look …and add pieces!



Ultimately the students created something where when students would come into the library they would stop and say ‘Wow!’

Beyond the Lego Build…

We had several conversations about what it was like trying to build a 13 story treehouse out of Lego, which then led to pages and pages of questions being generated by students about how author Andy Griffiths and illustrator Terry Denton were able to create their best selling treehouse series.

We then used a tripod and an iPad mount to set up a video station in the library where students could film themselves asking their questions to Andy and Terry!

Once we finish filming next week we are going to be sending Terry and Andy our questions along with a picture montage of our Lego 13 Story Treehouse build and see if they will send us a video message back!

I wonder what discussions and activities around other stories could be kick-started with student imagination and some Lego? What would you and your students build?


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