DUPLO and Early Development

DUPLO: the bigger, clunkier cousin of everyone’s favourite construction toy, LEGO.

 

While there’s no question LEGO is the more diverse and creative of the two, the simple stacking skills that DUPLO requires are critical for all kinds of neural and physical development. At Imagination Station, we love the complex learning outcomes that we see happening in the simplest of structures. Our DUPLO pit is popular with toddlers and parents alike, but have you noticed the little learnings taking place amidst the crashing and banging?

"It’s that feeling you get with a neatly organised cupboard, —everything fits, everything clicks!"

If you haven’t experienced the satisfaction that straightforward stacking of DUPLO can provide, you’ve surely worked with something similar. It’s that feeling you get with a neatly organised cupboard, —everything fits, everything clicks! These genuine feelings of gratification are a response to an organised world.

 

It Starts with the Tongue

As adults, we tend to appraise an unfamiliar object with our best, most socially-appropriate detective equipment: our eyes. However, long before social conditioning sets in, the most useful sense to use when exploring a new object is touch. Touch is much less likely to be confounded by factors such as distance and size.

Touch is immediate, and it’s at its finest on everyone’s favourite ice cream scoop: the tongue. Followed closely by our fingertips, the tongue is an area of the human body with the densest population of nerve endings. More nerve endings means more information is transported to the brain, and in new minds, that means a heck of a lot more learning. Stuffing a plastic brick into your mouth may raise a lot of questions about hygiene, but for young brains it provides a lot of answers. 


Take-away Lessons from the Tongue 

The experience of touching (and tasting) DUPLO is a gateway to lots of learning. It involves a range of textures—smooth and hard, corners and edges, hollows and lumps. In addition, there’s the challenge that merely holding a new object like a DUPLO brick poses to tiny hands. Fine motor skills are critical in adults, and are quietly acquired through play in the very young.

"The experience of touching (and tasting) DUPLO is a gateway to lots of learning. It involves a range of textures—smooth and hard, corners and edges, hollows and lumps."
Gross motor skills are gained as babies recognise objects and move towards them. 

To encourage bigger movements, you might use LEGO or DUPLO to create the outline of an obstacle course. You could set a challenge involving reaching up, down or across. You might build a car and practice pushing it along the carpet versus a wooden or tiled floor.


Observing Outcomes

Once familiar with the individual brick, stacking DUPLO becomes the new learning campaign. So many ideas are reinforced by this simple play. The learning around how two blocks can relate to each other quickly becomes how a multitude of bricks might become organised. Tower building shows that children are starting to set goals and understand achievement. Eventually, they can predict outcomes—too many bricks will topple a tower, a big brick on a small brick is more likely to fall. They’re learning about consequences as well as spatial awareness. You can also use DUPLO to encourage standard learning outcomes—colours, numbers and patterns are all important to explore. Describing these features grows language through improving both comprehension and vocabulary.


Onwards and Outwards

As the complexity of DUPLO structures increases, we start to see imagination take off. Storytelling elements are employed and suddenly the stack of bricks on the carpet is a rocket on its way to Jupiter. 
Your children don’t just play with DUPLO, they develop. 

If you’re local to Christchurch, you can join us on Hapori (Level 1) in Tūranga to discover the world of DUPLO.