Interview: Sam – Lego Quest Kids blog
1) Would you be willing to tell us a little about your family and how unschooling looks in your home? (include your name, blog, twitter, whatever you want)
My name is Sam, I am an artist, potter, crafting mom to Simon, age 7 and Sophie age 5. Wife to Chris who is a full time contemporary realist painter. I am currently focusing my attentions on the fine art of facilitating all the interests my kids and I have.
I do not have a job outside of the home and my husband works as a full time painter in our in-house studio. Both kids are unschooled. We live a peaceful, curious, excited, happy life together as a whole family. There are no outside forces like bosses or schools that tell us how to schedule our time and interfere with our daily flow. Speaking for the kids and I, everyday is different, we never know what kinds of adventures we will find ourselves in, or if it ends up being a day that we all chill out in our jammies. I blog about our lives as unschoolers at www.ninthstreeteast.blogspot.com.
2) Would you tell us a little about where the idea for the Lego Quest came about.
Lego Quest is a blog I started that features weekly challenges for Lego loving kids that are home/unschooled.
The idea for Lego Quest came to me out of the blue one day. My son had recently started spending all day everyday playing/working with his Lego. One thing that I find young people love to do is to share their creations with others and talk about what it is they made, why they made it the way they did, what it does, etc. Isn’t getting your picture in the Lego magazine with your creation considered the pinnacle for kids!?
On a smaller scale, I sent an email to a handful of local home/unschool families saying…”okay kids, get your Lego out, it’s time for a challenge.” I was curious to see if anyone would play along. After receiving my very first submission I was hooked. Seeing kids interested enough to investigate an idea, build something and share it, has made me very motivated to come up with new, interesting challenges every week.
After discovering how excited my friends kids were to play along, I decided to open Lego Quest up to my on-line friends and their cool kids.
Lego Quest is a weekly challenge for Lego loving kids. It is non-competitive, creative fun. There are no winners and there are no commitments. Play along only when you are inspired by the challenge
3) How long has Lego Quest been going on?
Lego Quest started on January 20th, 2010. It is in it’s 14th week. Every time I get a submission from a child I get so excited. I often laugh out loud and tell the rest of the family to come to see. Sometimes the kids and I are smiling, laughing and in awe at the cool designs. I’m really enjoying how kids talk about their creations. The story surrounding it, or how they were able to work out a certain problem.
4) What are the requirements for participation?
The biggest requirement is to be excited and motivated by the particular challenge. That’s the most important part of it all. If a child is not interested then they won’t be excited, and they won’t want to engage in the process. If the challenge gets their creative juices flowing, then they are more likely to explore it in depth and have a lot of fun while doing it. I can really tell when someone has enjoyed making their design.
Once the motivation is there, then they take the details of the challenge and interpret it in their own way. Create something that was inspired by the challenge, take a photo, send me the photo and tell me anything they want to about their design (story or process).
5) What does this project mean to you/your family?
I didn’t know it at the time, but this Lego Quest project has been all about building community for my kids and myself. I feel a bit like a host to a cool game that kids all over North America (Canada the USA, and even a family in England) are playing together.
I have built some amazing friendships on-line, and this feels like the kids are somehow connecting virtually too. They are getting to know each other through their creations, their stories and their comments on other kids creations in the comment section.
Personally, It has lit a creative fire in me. I have always been an artist, and we all know the demands of family and what that does to the creative process. For me, I parent so totally, and am so involved and interested in being in the world with my kids that I have left my art practice behind (temporarily). Lego Quest has given me a creative outlet that is bigger than our crafting kitchen table. Because there are other people participating in the ideas I’ve come up with, makes me feel like I’m part of something larger.
Excitement is contagious. I feel excited when I send out a new challenge and I feel excitement when the submissions start rolling in. It’s a win win situation. I feel like I am creating something fun, interesting and creative that excites some kids some of the time, and in return I feel their excitement which motivates me.
6) Could you tell us a little about the behind the scenes work you do to create the blog and maintain the challenge?
I’ve studied in the Bachelor of Fine Arts department in university and some of my favorite classes where sculpture and extended media. These classes had wonderful, inspiring lessons to spring board off of. It was all about personal interpretation of the ideas. Everyone made different things for the same projects. I feel like I am drawing from those experiences while coming up with new ideas. I try to make the challenges interesting enough that parents want to jump in too. I know I always want to! If parents are excited along with their kids, than bigger, greater, deeper things can happen!
I try to make the weekly challenges interesting, cool, and motivating. I leave them open ended so there is miles of room for personal interpretation. I don’t like to give specific instructions because that kills the creative process. I love the variety of submissions that come in for each particular challenge. This means that every child is able to be motivated in different ways and interpret it in their own unique way. The variety also comes from the range in ages that are participating. Right now we have from 18 months up to 12 years, and everyone is submitting together in a non-ageist community of acceptance.
I find since I’ve started the weekly Lego Quest blog, my mind is always churning about the next challenge. I think about things in the world and how it could relate to a new Lego challenge. That’s why I know it’s the right thing for me to be doing. It makes me happy, it fills me with creative energy.
7) Any other information you’d like to share with others?
My kids are not motivated by every challenge. They drop in and out, as do the other kids playing along. I think the no pressure to participate releases a lot of expectations therefore when a challenge really does hit home, great things can happen.
This little project has made me realize more acutely how joining in on my kids passions and helping them grow is so fulfilling for the whole family. It has brought a different level of connectedness between the kids and I. I am playing their game and helping it get bigger and better. Simon told me the other day that he felt famous because of the Lego Quest blog. I wonder if it’s the same feeling those kids have when their picture is published in the Lego magazine?