Saturday, March 21, 2015

Lego Jewelry Necklaces for Right to Read Week to Motivate Readers

LEGO jewelry necklaces to motivate readers via

Over the last three years I have been a member of the Right to Read Week committee for my sons' elementary school. This year the committee decided on the theme "EVERYTHING IS AWESOME WHEN YOU ARE LEARNING TO READ!".  We chose this theme simply because kids love Legos and The Lego Movie!
In our initial planning we found many little ideas on Pinterest to incorporate in Legos into our literacy activities, but we wanted a big idea to unite the school and motivate the children to read. After some brainstorming and investigating we came up with the idea of Lego Necklaces as a way to reward students for reading throughout the week at home. Thankfully, with the support of all the teachers, families, PTO, and the students themselves, this big idea was an AWESOME success.

Our school is comprised roughly 250 preschoolers, kindergartners and staff. Amazingly, this project cost under $60! Our students were motivated to read up to 25 extra books for less than 25 cents!

Based on the design pictured above, 1 small round Lego 1x1 plate would be awarded to a student for reading a book. The more books they read, the more Legos they would earn for their necklace.

A trip to our local Lego store allowed us to purchase a large canister and fill it with loose Legos from their PICK A BRICK wall. On the day I went to the store they had four colors of the small round Lego 1x1 plates available. A Lego representative at the store told me that the colors are rotated frequently, so if you were to replicate this project you could acquire more colors by planning ahead.

Over 3,600 Lego pieces fit in the large canister for only $15.99! If you do not have Lego store close by you can order loose Legos from the online Lego Shop or on a site like BrickLink. I found that the Lego store option was more cost effective.

LEGO jewelry, necklaces to motivate readers from
Lots of Legos = Lots of Books!
LEGO jewelry, necklaces to motivate readers from
My children and I sorted the Legos into groups of 100 to make them more manageable when it came time to disperse to each classroom teacher.
LEGO jewelry, necklaces to motivate readers from
I purchased 300 1 x 5 Lego Technic Lift Arm pieces from BrickLink for $32.54 which included shipping. I had to go this route because these specialty pieces were not available at our local Lego store. Bricklink was more cost effective than buying from the online Lego Shop. I had a great experience buying from this site and the shipping was fast!!

I downloaded a free Lego font and printed "READ" on full sheet of label paper. I cut out each one and placed it on the front side of each lift arm. Click here to download a PDF and print the READ paper. All you will need is label paper. I used about 5 sheets.
LEGO jewelry, necklaces to motivate readers from
One of the hardest decisions was what to use for the necklace string. I originally thought elastic lacing would be best because it would allow students to pull it over their head easier. However, I saw a potential problem if a child pulled the necklace down and let go. I thought a chipped tooth or a bloody lip could happen if the necklace was snapped just right. Therefore, I opted for plastic lacing. I purchased two 100-yard rolls at Michaels craft store. This was a cheaper option than the elastic lacing, too! It cost only $5 (after a coupon) for both rolls of lacing.

I tied the necklace after sliding on the Lego lift arm. I evened up both ends of the lacing and tied a simple knot. I pulled it extra tight to prevent it from slipping.
LEGO jewelry, necklaces to motivate readers from
I was slightly nervous that the knots would still slip despite pulling them extremely tight. I painted each knot with clear nail polish. (I am glad I did this! It took an extra 30 minutes, but there were no major issues with the necklaces coming apart.)
LEGO jewelry, necklaces to motivate readers from
Lastly, I wrote the name of each student on the back of each Lego lift arm with a black fine Sharpie.  (By the end of the week this writing did wear off. You may want to investigate a more permanent marker.)
LEGO jewelry, necklaces to motivate readers from
Each teacher received a bag of necklaces and small round Lego 1x1 plates.
A recording sheet was sent home with all students to keep track of the books they read each day. I was happy to find out that one student chose to read one of my THREE GHOST FRIENDS books!
I returned to the school on the last day of Right to Read Week. I was interested to hear how the Lego necklaces were implemented and how the students felt about reading for Legos. I was so impressed with how the teachers embraced the Lego Necklace idea. Each classroom had their own way of managing the necklaces.

Preschool classes sent home completed necklaces at the end of the week. Some kindergarten classes had the students keep track of their books all week and then assemble their necklaces on Friday during their Friday Fun Time or as a special center activity. Other classes handed out Lego necklaces early in the week and added the Legos each day. Some eachers allowed their students to wear their necklaces at school during designated times. I saw some teachers use their bulletin boards and pushpins to hang the necklaces during recess and specials.

Overall, the Lego necklaces were a hit with the students. I heard from the teachers over and over that the kids were so excited about earning Legos for reading.  Our committee achieved what we set out to do -- show the students that EVERYTHING IS AWESOME WHEN YOU ARE LEARNING TO READ!

Monday, March 2, 2015

One of my favorite days of the year!!

Dr. Seuss's birthday is one of my favorite days of the year! I have been celebrating his birthday with my children since 2007 (when my first daughter was 22 months old!). I try to come up with a fun experience to bring to life one of Dr. Seuss's books. This year we read THE KING'S STILTS and built red stilts just like King Bertram's!

Read about how we made the stilts on my blog, Happy Birthday Author!