A few years ago I read a blog post by media specialist extraordinaire Diana Rendina about how she had built a LEGO wall for the makerspace in her media center. I was, of course, completely taken with the idea and wanted one for my students.
Just one problem, no walls. Our media center is the last vestige of the 1970s open space renovation. Two sides of it are defined by hallways, the other two sides are actual walls, but are lined with bookcases and doors. No room for LEGOs.
Over time, I toyed several ideas - a LEGO easel, LEGO spaces on the endcaps of the low bookcases, gluing LEGO baseplates to the top of an old cafeteria table, but none of them had the same type of “come hither” appeal of the LEGO wall. Then one day last Spring, as I picked up yet another piece of laminate that had chipped off of my circulation desk, the brainstorm hit - why not turn my circ desk into a LEGO wall?
I measured, calculated, and researched cost and availability of materials. The next time my supervisor walked in I hit her with the idea, a copy of Diana Rendina’s LEGO Wall How-to, a list of materials, amounts, and prices, and a not-so-subtle request for funding.
A few weeks later, the purchase orders were being prepared and the materials I’d requested were waiting for me when I returned to school in August. There was one hiccup, I got a call from the Board of Education over the summer telling me that I would have to call LEGO directly if I wanted the baseplates. Apparently the powers-that-be at LEGO like to speak personally with anyone ordering 56 baseplates at a time. Once I explained how they were being used, they approved the purchase order.
Not only did I learn several new skills while building the LEGO wall, the media center's open space allowed the process of transformation to become a team effort.
I had begun painting the shelves, as they would not be covered by LEGO plates, when one of our cafeteria workers walked by and asked me why I was painting in a nice outfit. She took off up the hall and returned a few minutes later with plastic aprons to protect my clothes. She also reminded me to take some 'before' pictures to compare with the finished product.
When the painting was complete, I was ready to glue the tiles to my desk. First I had to unwrap them all and documented the process by filming my first time lapse video:
The next new skill was mastering the caulking gun. One of our history teachers gave me a quick lesson and I managed to wield it without covering too much of the floor in Liquid Nails®.
Throughout the process, as students and teachers walked by, they would comment or ask questions. I was able to finish everything in one long day and honestly, the hardest part was keeping the students away from the wall until the glue set. I gave our LEGO Robotics team the first chance to decorate our wall. They swarmed in, taking over the entire desk. It was fabulous! Since then the creations on the LEGO wall have been added to by students and teachers alike.
Thank you Diana Rendina for the inspiration.
Thank you Mrs. McCandless and Mr. Sutton for funding and your support of my “I have an idea” projects in the media center.
If you are interested in creating a LEGO Wall for your space, your first stop should be the How to Build an Epic LEGO Wall on the Renovated Learning blog for inspiration and directions.
As a teacher librarian in a 6-8 middle school, when I'm not dreaming up all sorts of tactics to get books into my students' hands, I am seeking new ways to harness technology to help them learn.
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