LEGO Education Simple Machine Set #9689 Review

Finding the right bricks for lessons is not an easy task. While LEGO does provide specific education sets for schools and teachers, some may wonder if the higher price tag is worth it and what’s the advantage over a random bucket of bricks? Recently we’ve acquired a few LEGO Education Simple Machines Set #9689. The set consists of 204 pieces, four printed build guides, top tray, and the plastic bucket. The parts included consist of Technic and other basic pieces that are meant to teach kids age 7+ about gears, wheels and axles, levers, and pulleys; basic physical science concepts. The set is around $80cdn, and if you do the math, the cost per piece is approx. $2.55; This is a steep price per piece if you are familiar with brick economic. However what you are paying for is much more than the pieces and maybe more worth it than you think. Here’s why:

Organization

One of the first thing you will notice is the study bucket and tray that comes with the set. Anyone who has tonnes of LEGO at home will know the headache of brick storage. The Simple Machine Set makes it easy to sort, store, and transport. No more random buckets and insecure carrying cases, the bucket and tray are solid and can help promote sorting activities for your kids as well. The set also comes with a printed part list/legend in case you need to audit your sets for missing or broken parts. 

Selective Parts

Less is more. Creative problem solving is often done best with restraint and this set’s small number of parts while seem restrictive provides an abundance of learning possibilities. LEGO has carefully selected the most needed parts for its purpose which means kids spend less time digging around looking for random parts and are more focused on function over form. It’s true that you may not create the most appealing MOC, but the point of this set is to discover and learn the various mechanical principles that can help kids in their creations at home.   

Lesson Plans

Even though there are only four printed guides in the box, LEGO’s education websites provide, free of charge, another 325mb worth of content for you to teach with; That’s an additional 20 activities for your class or kids! The activities are also designed for two children per set which mean opportunities for kids to work socially with others in their learning. Even after you have exhausted all the premade lesson plans, there are potentials for teachers and parents to create new ones. 

Conclusion

This education-focused set, while it's expensive compared to other theme sets, is one we find worthwhile for families as well. Being below the $100 mark makes it easier to justified for families, and yet it provides much more directed and educational play. If you would like to see this set in play, you can check out the lesson plans using this set or sign up for the upcoming workshops! 

Related Lesson Plan

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is one of the perfect holiday season to teach your kids about the gift of Jesus Christ and the good news His birth would bring us. Here at TGB we want to provide parents and children ministry leaders with a meaningful conversation about the gospel while your kids are having playtime with bricks or as a lesson on its own. So head on over to our NEW resources section for free printable PDF ideas! Keep your eyes open for new resources being added!

What are we working on?

The first 2 workshops held last month and earlier this month gave us some insights and directions as to what we need to work on. Here are some work-in-progress:

1. We are adding a few more things to the take-home kit to help kids and parents remember the key points. You will see the changes in the building instruction sheets starting with the coming workshops!

2. Finalizing the next take-home MOC for the Creation workshops! All the pieces are being shipped to us now!

3. Starting to look at how we can build and publish a comprehensive curriculum for children ministries and VBS. This is probably the more exciting (and demanding) part of our endeavour as we look at how we can make content and curriculum available to others. 

4. Designing workshops around animations and digital design with LEGO. Having been an art director & motion designer for the past 17+ years it just make sense to leverage some of my skill sets with the workshops. Whether it is stop-motion animations or creating MOC instructions I hope to add more value and fun through different creative outlets. 

If you have any comments and suggestions! Please do sent us a email

Have a great fall season!


Discover a unique expression

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We all like to teach kids to follow instructions. Step by step we want them to learn this important life skill early on in their childhood so they can be successful in their future endeavours. LEGO® provides a constructive and fun way to teach kids to do that. As kids learned to follow building instructions, they experienced how each steps translate into the final, prescribed product. But once they have learned the instructions; the various building techniques, it is also important to extend their learnings to expressions. An expression that is visual, personal, and reinterpreted. 

This summer while I was in Ukraine for short-term mission, we brought 300 sets of a simple 9-piece car. The car was part of a craft station that teaches kids to Move to Care. The first half of the lesson consist of a summary of the story of the 4 friends who was "moved to care" for their lame friend and brought him to Jesus by digging a hole on the roof and lowering him down. We gave verbal instructions and a final product example as to how to build the car one piece at a time. Once they had finished the build we extended the lesson to expressions by asking them how each of them can care for others. The point is that everyone can care for others in different ways with different strengths. We then ask them to rebuild their cars in different ways, in different formats, with no instructions. Just their own imagination as to how they want their cars to look. Their cars became a personal reminder to care for others. 

One of our hopes with the Take-Home kit at TGB is that parents can extend their child's learning by encouraging them to rebuild (and add to) the kit with their own personal expression. Whether it's from changing color pieces, to transforming the kit to another object (i.e.: a car to a horse?), we hope this will help our parents in having more quality brick-building time with your kids.

Learnings from the first workshop

Today marked the first ever workshop completed here at The Good Brick and it's a huge milestone for me as I was able to experience the lesson plan unfold - to see what worked and what needed adjustments, but one thing was for sure: this was a lot of fun. So what are the top 3 things I learned through the first workshop?

  1. 2 hours is fun, 1.5 hours is perfect. While we can play for hours and hours, the effective learning and playing time in the context of a workshop is around 1.5 hours. A half day / full day camp curriculum will need to have a more flowing up & down time in terms of rhythms. 
  2. Always strive for a healthy tension between playing & teaching. In developing the lesson plans that utilize toys as its medium, there will, inevitably, be a tension between playing & teaching. With each activity there is always a prioritization of teaching or playing, they are not mutually exclusive, but they are prioritized. These tension are driven not just by design but also by expectations from kids and parents. By learning to embrace these tensions, instead of a half-hazard, rigid resolution, we can be more fluid in how we teach and play at the same time. 
  3. Kids love bricks with eyes, aka part#98138pb007! If you see them at the Pick-A-Brick wall, grab a hand full of them! They can be great on anything!! 

 

Book Recommendation: The Biggest Story

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What goes well with a tub of LEGO®? An inspiring book. An epic story, And certainly no greater story than the Good Book itself. Kevin DeYoung recently released his latest book, a children book called The Biggest Story. Aside from being one of my favourite author of our time, the illustration was equally matched by Invisible Creature's Don Clark. This is truly a match made in heaven; all 132 pages of it. If you are looking for a bed time story or inspirations for your next LEGO® activity with your kids, I would highly recommend picking this book up

The beginning of a building block...

First off, thank you for visiting this new (ad)venture. This personal project has been a long time coming and I've been putting it on and off the burner for the past few years. There were a lot of risks and challenges that I had to overcome and am still overcoming. Teaching children is not for the faint of heart nor should it be taken without excellence in execution and engaging content. And working with you, the parents, is also a vital part of this relationship. Hence I am a fan of the Orange strategy as well as their Lead Small insights. 

I have a lot of dreams as to what TGB can provide in the future. Goals of long term sustainability, facility, supporting missions, youth leadership trainings, and many more. But these dreams are secondary when compared to the primary goal of teaching and building the faith of the next generation. Whether TGB will survive as a business venture I do not know, it is not my primary driving force. What drives me is a constant awareness of my limited time (on this earth) and resources to give to God what He'd already placed in my heart; To connect the dots, to point others to Jesus, and give Him all glory and praise.