This year marks 90 years that LEGO has been providing us with fun toys to play with and as today is World Play Day – LEGO Australia has invited everyone to join in the celebrations at Sydney’s Darling Harbour with 20 life-sized LEGO Minifigures taking over the precinct – as well as other celebrations all over the world.
Each lifesize LEGO character visiting Darling Harbour in Sydney features a special play moment for visitors to stop and enjoy. There’s something for everyone, whether it’s moon walking, break dancing, playing hide and seek or practising air guitar with your favourite Minifigure.
It was ninety years ago, a Danish carpenter called Ole Kirk Kristiansen, crafted a line of small wooden toys in his Billund, Denmark, workshop. In 2022 – 90 years later – the LEGO Group wants to bring more play to the everyday around the world. Today, LEGO Australia is inviting Aussies to join in 90 minutes of play on World Play Day as a reminder of the power of play.
Ole’s first collection had a modest 36 items which included cars, aeroplanes, and yo-yos, all carefully crafted to help local children learn about the world. What Ole Kirk Kristiansen couldn’t have known back then was that LEGO would become one of the biggest toy companies in the world and inspire millions of children to play each year.
Twenty-six years after Ole made his first wooden toy, his son, Godtfred, patented the LEGO brick we know today – with its interlocking tube system so that it can join with other bricks. Since then, from a few simple bricks in different colours, the humble brick has formed the basis of over 18,000 LEGO products, received the Hollywood treatment in THE LEGO MOVIE, helped children learn about robotics and coding through LEGO MINDSTORMS, and inspired digital adventures in 180 LEGO video games.
Throughout time, Ole’s passion for fun and high-quality toys has endured as his legacy. In fact, the LEGO name comes from two Danish words – ‘Leg Godt’ – meaning ‘Play Well.’ And now, new research from the LEGO Play Well Study shows play is not only fun, but also important for childhood development and overall happiness.
The Power of Play
For the 2022 LEGO Play Well Study, the company polled more than 55,000 parents and children in 30 countries including Australia and New Zealand and found that almost all parents think children strengthen their creativity (93%), communication (92%), problem-solving skills (92%), and confidence (91%) while they play. When children play, they develop skills that help them thrive in a rapidly changing world.
But most importantly, almost all children say playing as a family makes them happy (97%), helps them relax and takes their mind off school (95%) and is their favourite way to learn. A high number (67%) of children said they like to learn new things through play which is higher than the percentage of children who said they liked to learn through family members, school/teachers, their friends or other children, or time online.
This year, the LEGO Group is creating a movement and encouraging families across Australia to incorporate Play Hour (and a half!) into their days. A simple 90 minutes a day can be included at any point of the day and will get families in routine ahead of the World Play Day celebrations.
A Family Affair
Play isn’t just for kids. Playing together makes the whole family happier, builds stronger family bonds and improves their wellbeing according to 95% of parents. Over 4 in 5 parents (85%) called out LEGO play specifically, saying their families are happier when they play with LEGO bricks.
Family values have always been at the heart of the LEGO Group, which is still headquartered in Billund, Denmark, where Ole started making his first toys. To this day, it’s still owned by Ole’s family with grandson Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen recently passing the helm to his own son, Thomas Kirk Kristiansen.
As Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, Chairman of the LEGO Group said: “When my great-grandfather founded the company 90 years ago, he recognised that play could change the lives of children – it brings families together and helps children develop skills that can enable them to reach their full potential. He only had a small workshop, but he had big ambitions to ensure as many children as possible could experience the benefits that play brings. Whether 1932, 2022 or on our 100th Anniversary in 2032, we strive to continue this legacy by helping all families, wherever they are in the world, to play well.”
There are hundreds of ways to play. Here are some simple activities for families to kickstart the fun any time of the year!
- LEGO game – Grab and Go
Grab a handful of 10-20 LEGO pieces from whatever you have at home and see what you can create. Set a build theme or, for an extra challenge, try timing this game. This is a great activity for all ages!
- Back to Back with Six Bricks
Can you explain how to create a model you’ve designed without letting the other player see it first? Give it a shot! Give each person a set of the same LEGO bricks and challenge the other to build the same model with on verbal instructions
- Balloon Car Game
Follow this guide here to build a car out of LEGO with wheels and leave a ring in the car to fit the thread of a balloon through. Blow up your balloons and race your LEGO cars to see who is the fastest.
- Build your own: awesome LEGO jumping car ramp
Take the balloon car game to the next level by building your own car ramp!
Spark that engineer inside and design a parachute that gets your LEGO minifigure passenger safely to the ground. Get creative with tissue paper, string, sticky tape and scissors!
Building a Brighter Future
The past ninety years have reinforced just how important play is to all children. This is why 25% of the LEGO Group’s profit dividends go to the LEGO Foundation, giving millions of children the chance to play and learn – including those who are disadvantaged and impacted by crises. Last year, the LEGO Foundation committed over $440 million USD (over $650 million AUD) to help children around the world find fun through play.
Celebrate With Us
To join in the fun you can follow the hashtag #LEGO90years or visit LEGO.com/90-Years-Of-Play
Some Fun Facts about the LEGO brand:
- It’s all in a name – Ole turned to his employees for help naming his company, offering a bottle of his home-made wine. Perhaps luckily for his employees, he came up with the winning name himself!
- Only the best is good enough – Ole’s motto still sets the bar for quality and safety. LEGO elements are dropped, crushed, heated, and tested with artificial sweat and saliva to check they can withstand being a child’s favourite toy. Butter is even used to replicate greasy fingers.
- Splitting hairs – each LEGO brick is moulded to the accuracy of a hair’s width (5my/0.005mm) to ensure the perfect ‘clutch power’ that holds LEGO creations together.
- An enduring appeal – the LEGO Brick was voted Toy of the Century in 1999 – over 40 years after it was first designed.
- The brick blueprint – the design of the LEGO brick we know today has remained the same since 1958 meaning bricks produced over 60 years ago fit with those made today.
- A model makeover – by 2030, we are aiming to make all core LEGO products from more sustainable materials without changing the design or compromising on quality or safety. Around 150 LEGO elements are already made from sustainably sourced sugarcane and a prototype LEGO brick made from recycled PET plastic bottles was unveiled in 2021.
- Big bricks for small hands – LEGO DUPLO was introduced to help toddlers play creatively in 1969 – DUPLO bricks are double the size of LEGO bricks in all dimensions.
- Standing tall – each LEGO Minifigure measures 4 bricks high without its hair or any hats or accessories to ensure it matches the proportions of buildings in the LEGO System in Play.
For more from Women Love Tech about LEGO, visit here.