I’ve been doing Lego Based Therapy with autistic children in my schools for a couple of years now and often deliver training to teachers and care staff in how to run these sessions. I’ve been thinking for some time about how this might be used in a church setting as the children usually love the structure and format of the sessions and their communication skills develop really well in this context.
So what is Lego Based Therapy?
Lego Based Therapy has not been developed by Lego (who don’t endorse it) but by an autism clinic in America. It’s actually a communication, social interaction and problem solving therapy. Here is more information if you’d like to learn about it.
Over 12 weeks the children work in a group of three and take on a ‘job’ with a specific and clear role. There is the…
Engineer – this role is in charge of the creation. They hold the plans (as in a Lego kit) and have the responsibility to communicate each step of the plan to the right person.
Supplier – this role is in charge of the Lego pieces and has to listen to the Engineer so they can find the right piece to pass on to the…
Builder – this role is in charge of building the model. They have to listen to the engineer to put the pieces given to them by the Supplier in the right place.
Each child in the group rotates through each role so they have the chance to experience and develop in each one. When problems occur, the children are encouraged to work it out together rather than relying on the adult to come up with the answer. They are encouraged to build a good and trusting relationship with each other as a team and to develop social chat through this and free building which they do as part of the session.
I love these sessions because many children with additional needs in schools become very reliant on adults to tell them what to do, and learning to solve problems without adult interference is a great skill for them growing up.
Lego and the Bible
Lego is very inspiring and interesting to many children. Some children with fine motor difficulties may struggle to put pieces together, and children who do not use verbal language may either need specific support such as visual or voice communication apps…but adaptations could be explored to make this activity accessible to all.
I did a session on using Lego to teach the Bible at the Puppet and Creative Arts Festival for One Way Uk in 2018. It was so successful, people were disappointed when I didn’t go in 2019. So in preparation for the 2020 festival I am going to be doing a year of Lego Bible sessions at our churches Lego club that it runs at a local school. First I am going to share with you how I thought we could start to look at creation and the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit through using a Lego Therapy approach.
The Trinity – A relationship
God the Father can be like the Engineer. He has the plans and communicates his plan to the Holy Spirit who is like the Supplier (of all things!). Jesus the Son becomes the Builder.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth didn’t have any shape. And it was empty. There was darkness over the surface of the waves. At that time, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light. Genesis 1:1-3
In the beginning, the Word was already there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through him. Nothing that has been made was made without him. John 1:1-3
When we do a Lego activity where 3 people have to work together to make something, by each fulfilling their allotted role, we can discuss how the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is a relationship. This particularly difficult concept is much more than we can really understand, but for children and adults this might be a good way to start. When we use analogies such as the sun (3 parts – physical, light, heat) to explain the Trinity, then we miss out the interactions of communication between the three parts. Doing an activity that develops a 3-way relationship can help us begin to explore the pure love, communication and working together of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Now, grace and truth come to us through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the One and Only is God and is at the Father’s side. The one at the Father’s side has shown us what God is like. John 1:17-19
Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip? I have been among you such a long time! Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. So how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:9
But the Father will send the Friend in my name to help you. The Friend is the Holy Spirit.
He will teach you all things. He will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26
Once we have worked together to make a model we can examine how our relationships worked. Were they perfect like the Holy Trinity? – of course they won’t be! But we can look at how being connected to God, following his Son and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can join in with that beautiful relationship and know how we are loved completely.
There are many more ways we can explore the Bible using children’s interests in these little plastic coloured bricks. I have bought a couple of books and will be starting to try some things out at the Lego Club in the next few weeks. The most important thing to me is to make sure we communicate who God is and how he wants the children to follow his son Jesus. We can make scenes and learn stories, but it is important to learn the truth of God’s absolute love for us in the process.