Teacher Ivy Schmidt with students

LEGO StoryStarters – 2015 OEF Grant

LEGO Story Starters

Ivy Schmidt, Bennett Woods 3rd Grade, 2015

LEGOs, the colorful plastic building bricks that kids assemble into amazing masterpieces, can be found in most homes of elementary-aged children. Now LEGOs are being used in one Okemos classroom to help students create imaginative stories and learn about the writing process through an innovative program called LEGO StoryStarters.

Bennett Woods 3rd grade teacher Ivy Schmidt received an OEF grant to purchase the LEGO StoryStarters classroom kit, which includes sets of LEGO pieces, a curriculum guide that meets Common Core English Language Arts standards, and software to allow students to digitally publish their work. The kit provides teachers with many options to inspire and develop strong writers. Some lessons allow students to work in groups, creating a story with various options for writing a solution, while other lessons offer the beginning of a story line and students are instructed to choose a scenario, develop the plot and add their own details. After that, the really fun part starts: students storyboard their ideas by physically building the story’s action scene using the provided LEGO pieces. This part of the process can be done in small groups and collaboration is encouraged to create a robust and engaging scene. Once built, students write what is happening in their LEGO scene, act it out, edit and improve their stories, and ultimately publish their work using the program’s software. Students spend multiple days working through the full program, learning about the different elements of a well-composed story and creating an original tale.

Mrs. Schmidt appreciates how the LEGO StoryStarters program is able to offer her students an intriguing way to initiate a good story. “I like how their faces light up when they learn that they can create with their hands before putting it all together into a more abstract form on the paper. With StoryStarters, students never tell me, "I don't know what to write," which was a common problem before we had this program.” StoryStarters is also able to capture and hold the interest of young writers. OEF trustee Martha Hentz observed the storyboarding process in Ivy’s classroom. “I was amazed at the level of concentration in the room. Every student was engaged and focused on their individual projects. And they were so proud of what they had created.”

This hands-on program encourages student collaboration, integrates technology into the classroom, and inspires students to create imaginative stories. Thank you, OEF donors, for allowing us to provide innovative classroom materials like LEGO StoryStarters. And, thank you to Okemos teachers like Ivy Schmidt for bringing these materials to our students.

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