This past week I went on study tour for my second class, Nordic Education and Parenting. Each study tour is centered around visits to places that relate to the class topics, so this week we visited places all over the country that promoted early childhood development.
The highlight of the tour for me was going to The Lego House in Billund. I learned shortly after arriving in Denmark that Lego was founded here, and the word is a combination of the Danish words leg godt which means “play well.”
The Lego House is an experience center for children and families. It is home to 25 million lego bricks which make up sculptures, play areas, and interactive games. Below you can see a photo of a dinosaur that is made entirely out of Legos! It was fun to see these creations, and also play with robots and build our own lego minifigures.
One of the things that interested me about Lego is that it’s so cherished by the country even though it’s a toy made out of plastic and Denmark is one of the most sustainable and environmentally-conscious countries in the world. It is also common in Denmark to teach children about sustainability at a young age, so I wondered if perhaps this creates conflicting views on plastic toys like Legos. I learned at The Lego House that the company aims to make all core products sustainable by 2030, and they pledged to use 100% sustainable packaging by 2025. It is so cool how such a huge toy manufacturer is taking bold steps to be more environmentally friendly.
Although our visit might have looked like it was all for fun, we also connected the experience to what we’re learning in class. We had discussions about how toys like Legos can promote learning. One of the things we talked about was the concept of open-ended vs closed-ended toys. Open-ended toys, like a pile of legos, don’t have any predetermined instructions and can be used in any way the child wants. This promotes creativity and independence. Closed-ended toys, like puzzles, do have a singular purpose and can’t really be used in any other way than as they were designed. These types of toys strengthen kids’ ability to follow direction and sequences. Legos can also be closed-ended if they’re in a specific set that comes with instructions to build something. Depending on the child and their learning style, they might gravitate and/or benefit from playing with some types of toys over the others. This is why it’s important to have a variety of toys in play settings.
After five days of traveling, I intentionally didn’t make any big plans for the weekend after because I wanted to rest as much as possible. One relaxing thing I did was go on a GoBoat with some people who live in my Kollegium (dorm) to celebrate one of the girls’ birthdays. GoBoats are small solar-powered boats that you can rent with a group of people to sail around the Copenhagen harbor. They’re fun because you and the people in your group can take turns driving and you can choose where you go during the time you’re renting it. It’s a great way to see the city from the water! There’s also a picnic table in the middle so we had birthday cinnamon rolls, or “snails” as they call them here!
I can’t believe that I only have two weeks left in this beautiful city! I am excited to share more of the things I do in Copenhagen!