Montessori-inspired & hands-on activities with Lego Duplo. How to make the most out of toys

Hi, thanks for stopping by! I am here to share with you some ideas for activities with Lego Duplo. These are many children's favourite toys, and today I want to prove that used in many educational activities, they will provide fantastic hands-on, learning through play experience. I am a firm believer that if we invite any objects to our lives and homes, they should serve some purpose. The more use we get out of the toys and materials we already own, the less we need to purchase. I hope that I will encourage you to use Lego Duplo for more than just building. If you want to read more about making the most use out of toys, you can do so here. I also have humongous guides to activities with animal figurines (here, and here), and activities with vehicles (here). 
Now, back to Lego Duplo. I categorized the activities into three groups: beginner-friendly, intermediate and advanced. Now, this is only to guide you, all kids develop slightly differently, so please do not feel bad if your kid didn't master one of the skills mentioned yet. 
All of the activities are very engaging, most of them are hands-on and Montessori-inspired (presented slightly differently than the standard on the tray Montessori way, though).
I hope you enjoy reading and try some of these activities out 😊

BEGINNER FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES:
COLOUR SORTING
This simple activity supports the development of sorting skill as well as colour knowledge. To set it up, I used a few pieces of coloured paper that I laid out on a table (if you have paper plates or bowls in many colours they will be perfect too), and Duplo blocks in a small basket.
The child sorts the blocks by placing them on the colour matching piece of paper.
You can stick to the blocks-only version of this activity, but you can also add some other objects. 


COLOUR MATCHING
This activity is slightly similar to the colour sorting, but here the child matches only 1 Duplo block to the piece of paper in the same colour or another Duplo block (plate, bowl, a piece of fabric- anything you can find around your house). 


SIMPLE PUZZLES
This activity is great for introducing your child to the world of puzzles. Choose a fairly large sticker, cut it in half and stick it to 2 Lego Duplo blocks (or 4, if needed). The child needs to take the blocks apart, and then connect them back together. 
Of course, you can make this activity slightly more advanced by making the tower higher. Here a printed picture will work better than the sticker.


ANIMALS AND THEIR YOUNG MATCHING ACTIVITY
This is a wonderful activity that supports the development of a child's visual analysis and synthesis skills (crucial for early literacy and numeracy skills). For this activity, you can use either stickers or printed pictures of baby animals and their mums. Stick the young to one block, and the parent to the other. The child connects two blocks and helps the baby animal find its mama 🙂 My stickers are fairly large, so I needed to use 2 blocks per picture.


FOLLOW THE SHAPE ACTIVITY
This activity will help your child to learn the shapes. All they need to do is to place the blocks on the outlines of the particular shape.


TRANSFERRING WITH TONGS
In this activity, the child transfers the Duplo blocks from one tray (plate, basket, bowl) to another, using tongs. I love this activity, and I keep tossing it into all my activity guides, because it is easy to set up (and very affordable), and it has various benefits. It teaches concentration and patience, strengthens the hand muscles and supports the development of the hand-eye coordination. 


INTERMEDIATE ACTIVITIES:

THE NUMBER RODS
The Montessori Number Rods are a wonderful material introducing the child to quantity 1-10, consisting of 10 wooden rods divided into segments in alternating colours (blue and red).
If you can not afford the original Number Rods, you can make some using Lego Duplo. If introduced correctly, they will totally do the job. 
This activity will help your child to understand the quantitative relationship between numbers. 


COUNTING AND NUMBER RECOGNITION ACTIVITY
This is a great counting and number recognition activity. Super simple to set up, because all you need are some Duplo blocks and cards with numbers (you can use wooden tiles with numbers, magnetic numbers, wooden numbers, flashcards or simply write the numbers down on a piece of paper). The child places the correct amount of blocks next to the corresponding number. 


PATTERING
In this activity, your child finishes the pattern you presented. It can be as simple, or as difficult as you want. It can consist of Duplo blocks only, or you can toss in some other items. Understanding patterns is an important skill for mathematical operations, logic and critical thinking. 


DUPLO RESCUE
Duplo rescue is a fun activity that helps to develop fine motor skills and critical thinking. You can prepare many different variations of it (like putting several elastic bands on the blocks etc.), I, however, decided to simply tape the Duplo bricks to a flat surface with some washi tape. The child needs to 'rescue' all the bricks.


DUPLO AND SPOON RACE
This is probably one of the most fun activities in this guide, and it supports concentration and the development of your child's great motor skills. The Duplo and Spoon race is my take on the traditional Egg and Spoon race, so literally, all you need for this activity is a spoon and a single Duplo block. 



ADVANCED ACTIVITIES:

LEARNING SYMETRY
Duplo blocks can be very helpful with teaching your child symmetry. For this activity, you will need some Duplo blocks (please remeber that you need to have the exact ones for your child), base board and a piece of jute twine/ yarn/ washi tape/ painters tape. 
First, divide the base board in half with your jute twine or tape. Then stick a few blocks on one side of the board, and ask your child to copy what you built on the other side of the board. 


BUILDING WORDS
The Duplo blocks can become a fantastic movable alphabet. You can make it by simply sticking letters to the blocks, and inviting your child to build some words using them. 


BUILD A TOWER GAME
This fun and simple game requires only Duplo blocks and dice. The contestants take turns in rolling the dice and add an equal amount of blocks to their towers as the number of dots on the dice they rolled. A winner is a person with the tallest tower after all the blocks have been used. 


COMPARING NUMBERS, GREATER THAN LESS THAN
In this activity, the child counts the number of blocks in both towers and compares which number is greater than the other one. 


MATCHING UPPER AND LOWER CASE LETTERS 
To set this activity up, simply stick upper and lower case letters to single Duplo blocks, and then ask your child to match them. 



I hope that I have inspired you to use Lego Duplo for more than just building. I would love you to share your recreations of my activities on Instagram, and if you do so, please tag me (@whatmumloves) or use a hashtag #whatmumloves. Thank you for your time!

Gosia x



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10 comments

  1. We love duplo and Nila got some lovely sets for Xmas , what brilliant ideas to make some creative play out of them

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  2. What great ideas for Lego and Duplo. I love the idea of putting the alphabet onto bricks to help with reading. I might try this with my step-son!

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  3. DUPLO is so much fun for little ones and can be utilised in so many different ways. I'm loving your ideas to help with vocabulary.

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  4. Wow you have really thought of so many good ideas here! I have done a few myself but you have thought if way more. Love the Spoon race idea!

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  5. Working in a preschool I often wonder how to mix things up a bit - love some of these ideas!!

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  6. Theo went to a Montessori nursery and I absolutely loved that style of learning, these ideas are all wonderful and there are a few I will try with our youngest.

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  7. Olivia got some Duplo for Christmas so we will definitely be giving some of these activities a go. Such lovely ideas.

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  8. This is such a resourceful post! I am going to bookmark it. I used to do things like colour sorting and simple puzzles with Luke when he was younger, but I never thought of using the bricks as number rods etc.

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  9. I am impressed by your ideas, my nephew absolutely loves legos so this would be ideal to introduced into is normal play.

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