Don’t Shelve the LEGO-Duplos Too Soon, RMT’ers!

Happy Half-Birthday, T! ROAR!

Today T turns four-and-a-half, which definitely means he’s a lot more preschooler and full-on boy now than toddler. OK, OK, it’s pretty safe to say that our toddler years definitely behind us. Bittersweet milestone, and long overdue in acknowledging it, but inevitable I suppose (yay… and sniff-sniff).

T made this fire truck from his LEGO-Duplo and Megablock blocks by integrating several sets together with his own imagination.

The other realization that comes along with this transitional age is that all of a sudden, several of T’s toys appear to be a little more baby-ish than boy-ish. For example, the beloved car garage-and-ramp set that his grandma gave him for his, um, first birthday was bagged and put away around the first of the year (tear). While it was a piece he could use with his other cars and vehicles, there was just something about the rounded edges and softer coloring of that ramp that seemed to call out to T less and less (and we needed the floor space more and more). I could list other examples of toys of T’s that we’ve shelved since the first of the year, but I won’t bore you with all of that… not to mention I don’t want to shed any more tears looking back on just how fast T is growing up.

Just one of several of T's LEGO-Duplo buckets of blocks.

But one set of toys that surprisingly seems to be hitting prime time right now are T’s LEGO-Duplos. These are the larger-style LEGO blocks that the company normally markets toward the more toddler-aged set. However if you look closely on the bins, the age range on these blocks is for the most part ages one-and-a-half through five-years-old. Now while one might think that’s a very large and diverse developmental range for a toy to last in rotation in keeping a kid’s interest, I have to say the LEGO folks got this one spot on. We’ve tried introducing the more traditional (and much smaller) LEGO sets to T, but he is unable to construct many (if any) of those sets without adult or older kid assistance. But since the time T’s turned four-years-old, the Duplos tell a completely different story.

The LEGO-Duplo robot "constructions"... AKA, instructions. At the Duplo level of LEGOs, the instruction booklets are just pages showing different scenes that one can build. There are no step-by-step processes like with the more traditional and smaller LEGO sets. However, photos are such that kids can very easily pick out exactly which bricks are needed to build what's shown.

T built both of these robots 100 percent on his own. On the right is the robot as pictured in the Duplo instruction booklet, and on the left is T's own robot using the same sized bricks in the same 3-D model, but in different colors. Twin-tastic, T!

In just the last couple of months, T has been able to independently play with and construct most of his instruction-based Duplo sets (or as he liked to call them, his “constructions”). As a parent, I say hallelujah – not just because we now have something that T can play with by himself for extended periods of time that is not a train, but also because it’s a huge step developmentally in that he can independently follow instructions from a printed manual all while manipulating blocks into 3-D models.

One of T's many boat creations from LEGO-Duplo and Megablock brick blocks. He especially was proud of the couch along the back of the boat that he made for his crew members.

A "boat-plane" T made using a mix of LEGO-Duplo and Megablock brick blocks. Yes, I forgot to mention, but LEGO-Duplo and Megablocks work together. Yay for that!

And along with that, these Duplos have spurred an amazing imaginative spirit from inside of T that blows me away each and every single day. The stories that T tells behind his Duplo structures also entertain C and I to no end. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, T’s favorite thing to build is  a boat… whether it’s a garbage boat, a police boat, or a dinosaur boat, T’s got boats to build!

So to those parents who’ve shelved the Duplos once they’ve shelved the toddler years, I urge you to reconsider, not just for your child’s development but for your own sanity. LEGO has it right that these green tubs will keep your kids more than happy through their fifth birthday… and it’ll free up a little more time for you to be constructive and creative, too, RMT’ers!