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Get your 'brick' on at the Kingsport Public Library

Matthew Lane • Sep 9, 2018 at 4:30 PM

KINGSPORT — Everybody loves LEGOs, right? Except maybe when you’re walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night and your bare feet instantly find that one, tiny piece half buried in the carpet.

Then, maybe not so much.

But for the most part, kids (and kids at heart) love building stuff with LEGOs. And they’ve got so many awesome themes to choose from: Star Wars, Marvel and DC superheroes, Harry Potter, Minecraft, the Disney princesses, Pirates of the Caribbean and the famous “City” sets.

And it doesn’t always have to be with a themed set. Sometimes, it’s good to just sit down and build whatever comes to mind without following the directions in a 30-page instruction manual.

This frame of mind is what’s happening every month at the Kingsport Public Library.

For the past three years, the library has hosted a LEGO Club event each month for elementary-aged kids. The events are held once a month during the school year, twice a month during the summer and usually run about 90 minutes.

Casey Applebaum, the youth services librarian, explained how the club got started.

“Librarians like to share ideas with one another, and we started to hear from other libraries across the state and country that this is a program that’s getting kids into libraries,” Applebaum said. “Kids are having fun and it’s developing building and engineering thoughts in kids’ minds.”

Thus, the LEGO Club at the Kingsport Public Library was born. To build up a good foundation of bricks, staff sought donations from the community, then supplemented them with some additional purchases. The end result was a decent sized cart full of LEGOs.

At a typical event, about 25 kids will show up. Each gets a build plate and a tray with LEGOs. Staff members briefly go over the rules and then announce the building challenge to the kids, Applebaum said.

“Sometimes it’s as simple as building your dream house or a rocket to go to the moon. We come up with different challenges to get their gears going. It’s more than just playing with LEGOs,” Applebaum said. “Once they’ve built their challenge, then the rest of the time is free build.”

Savannah Wright, who home-schools her five children, has been coming to LEGO Club events since the library started offering them. Two of her sons are old enough to participate and just recently her only daughter has joined in the building fun.

“When we have LEGOs at home, the kids get a set and want to build it. Once built, it goes on a shelf,” Wright said. “What makes the club special is they get to have a surprise theme. They get to use their imagination, there’s more creativity and they all come up with something different.”

Take last month, for example. Wright said her 10-year-old built a Martian and its space house; her 8-year-old a replica of the Hubble telescope; her daughter, a pink rocket and castle.

“You can see their personalities through what they create,” Wright said. “It’s a safe, pleasant environment. We’ve made new friends and it’s totally different than playing at home.”

The next LEGO Club event will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 17 in the main auditorium of the library. Registration is required, so call (423) 229-9366 or stop by the youth services desk to sign up.

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