Preparing children for Kindergarten begins at home, and where better
to turn for educational play items than the LEGO Company.
LEGO pioneered the brick-based building category in 1969 with the introduction
of the still popular LEGO DUPLO Bricks.
“The more fun we can make a learning experience, the more children will
want to play,” said Michael McNally, public relations manager for LEGO
Americas, “and therefore, will actively seek learning at the same time.
[Our products] inspire children to create their own stories, role play
with characters and let their creative abilities soar.”
The LEGO brand is among the top ten strongest brands chosen by families
around the world, alongside brands like Coca Cola, Nike and Disney. Since
2002, all preschool LEGO products (ages birth to 6 years) have been grouped
under the LEGO EXPLORE umbrella, with four sub-categories:
EXPLORE Together, EXPLORE Being Me,
EXPLORE Logic and EXPLORE Imagination.
Sets in the EXPLORE categories typically have fewer bricks and more manageable
pieces for little hands.
Animates, the 2003 addition to the EXPLORE IMAGINATION
line, allows children to form realistic animals, as well as any number
of other wacky creatures. Animates contain the brightly colored LEGO bricks
with added unique pieces, such as magnetic or movable heads and odd-shaped,
bending tails. Create jungle critters from a tub of African Adventures
($19.99), the Rhino and Lion duo ($14.99) or
individual boxes of the Funny Crocodile, Funny
Giraffe or Funny Lion ($9.99 each), ages 1.5
For other new additions to the EXPLORE Imagination line, LEGO Company
teamed up with Bob the Builder to create play sets for
ages 2 years and up. Tikes can construct simple play-lands for Bob and
his cohorts with Bob’s Busy Day or Wallpaper
Wendy ($4.99 each). Both sets have about 10 pieces, and larger
sets like Clock Tower Bob ($19.99) contain 46 pieces.
The Bob the Builder sets have less bricks to put together and include
a mat that provides the setting, characters, and props for the scene.
Collect all the sets for a complete city for Bob and his friends.
New in EXPLORE Together are the Fire Fighters ($39.99,
46 pieces) and Police Action ($29.99, 38 pieces) sets,
for ages 2 and up. To put out a fire, kids will have two helicopters,
a fire truck, a rescue boat, an emergency car and several firemen to help
do the job.
Children can combine the above two sets with others in EXPLORE Together,
like the Traffic City ($59.99, 82 pieces), Road
Worker Truck ($9.99, 13 pieces) and Campsite
($5.99, 9 pieces), to create a city full of action and interaction. Each
set encourages a child to recreate a “real life” situation and become
On the Move Hospital
Perfect for entertaining children ages 2 and up while traveling are LEGO’s
new On the Move Hospital ($19.99,18 pieces) and On
the Move Police Station ($19.99, 17 pieces), new from the EXPLORE
Being Me line. These pieces can be carried in the set’s backpack, then
zipped open to create perfect settings for having fun. Each set has miniature
characters, vehicles and other props.
Much of the EXPLORE Being Me line is geared toward children ages 24 months
and younger, starting educational play early on. The bricks in these LEGO
sets are larger and round around the edges, making them safer for younger
Stack ‘n’ Learn Sorter
The Stack ‘n’ Learn Sorter ($6.99, 12 pieces) is the
newest addition, appropriate for ages 9 months and up. The oversized bricks
are stackable, but these bricks are shaped like squares, stars, ovals
and soft triangles, and the bucket lid has special slots to create a perfect
Intelli-Train Starter Set
Using the Tubes - Experiment Set ($19.99, 58 pieces),
children ages 1.5 and above can create mazes and other amazing creations
with bricks, bendable tubes and balls. Tots 2 and older can travel to
the arctic to learn about native people, polar bears, penguins and more
through Polar ($24.99, 31 pieces). Tots 3 and up can
begin learning how trains work and how to put a train set together with
Intelli-Train Starter Set ($49.99, 28 pieces). The set
comes with a locomotive, wagon, two "smart" drivers, tracks
and more. Collect other Intelli-Train sets for a complete adventure.
Writer's Bio: Beth Michaels is a freelance writer
living in Barstow, California, and the proud mother of a son, Kai.