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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

When are children ready for their first LEGO set?

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LEGO is one of those toys that really does stand the test of time. It has won countless awards and is one of the few toys that can tear my three away from their iPads and Laptops for any real length of time. We have a big box of LEGO bricks, boards and figures that usually lives at the top of the stairs between the kids' bedrooms and H, H and J will regularly play their own games together. 


I remember playing with a lot of LEGO when I was younger too and my favourite thing to do would be to build houses with different coloured walls. I don't think there were such things as LEGO sets back in the 80s, or if there were I don't recall. I was always just happy with plain bricks. Times have changed now and you can order a huge selection of LEGO sets from various retailers including Tesco Direct. There are so many different LEGO sets to choose from including LEGO Marvel Superheroes, LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Disney Princess, LEGO Minecraft and more. The choice is incredible now and children today are very lucky indeed. 

We bought Harry his first proper LEGO set for Christmas when he was aged 6. At this point his siblings were aged 3 and 1. We ignored the age guidelines and went straight in with a Millennium Falcon. This cost us well over £100 and was a definite error of judgement to buy him a set like this at such a young age (for the record, this set is recommended for ages 9-14 years). Steve ended up building most of it himself and as it was 'played with' between a 6, 3 and 1 year old, it ended up being damaged and in need of repairs on several occasions before Steve ended up getting tired of constantly fixing it so gave up. This experience kind of put us off buying LEGO sets and we haven't bought any since.



The lovely folk at Tesco asked us if we'd like to try out a couple of LEGO sets and I was genuinely intrigued as to how the experience would differ now that my children were aged 10, 8 and 6. We were sent the LEGO City Jungle Explorers Mobile Lab (RRP £39.99) and the LEGO Friends Heartlake Hospital (RRP £84.99). Both sets are aimed at children aged 7-12 years. 



We decided that we would build the sets as a family and all five of us got involved at some point. The LEGO City Set was built in one evening by Steve, Harry and Jack and the LEGO Friends set took a little longer with myself, Heidi and Steve all chipping in across four nights. The sets are clearly split into sections and I like that you can complete one bag at a time so you don't have to set a lot of time aside to build a set all in one evening - it can be an ongoing project. The instructions are super easy to follow and very much step-by-step. There wasn't any point that any of us were stumped at what to do next. 


The sets are recommended for ages 7-12 which I think is perfect. Harry (10) and Heidi (8) could easily follow the instructions and build without supervision. Jack (6) would not be able to do the whole set by himself but was definitely able to follow the instructions and join in with the build. 







In my whole 33 years of life, I have never built a LEGO set like this and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. It was nice working as a team and following instructions and you really did feel as if you'd accomplished something at the end of it all too. Building LEGO is a methodical way is surprisingly relaxing plus good for self esteem and confidence - who knew? 


I built this! 


What I love most about these LEGO sets is the incredible attention to detail. The doors to the hospital are sliding just like in real life, there are magazines in the waiting room, there's a skeleton in the X-ray department and even the equipment trolley has it's own LEGO stethoscope. I have been impressed.






Once built, the sets are fairly robust and we've had a couple of minor repairs to do to the hospital (which Heidi has managed herself) and there have been no repairs to report with the Jungle vehicle yet. H, H and J have played with their LEGO sets every evening this week from finishing school until bed time. They have definitely been a real hit. They have inspired lots of imaginative play including games where a hospital has landed in a jungle and where a Venus Fly Trap has been biting human hands and they need an X-ray. Although the LEGO sets aren't from the same group, they can definitely be played with together. LEGO is not gender specific either and Jack has enjoyed playing with LEGO friends and vice versa. My only concern is with the hospital there are lots of small accessories (a thermometer for example) and I do worry that these will end up lost over time.


So in answer to my original question, I think LEGO have their recommended ages spot on and you should not ignore the age advice printed on the boxes like we did with the Millennium Falcon. I would also be mindful of younger siblings and wait until they are old enough to join in without destroying anything like a toddler might if you can help it. 

These sets have provided us with a nice way to spend time together (with less arguments than a board game) and I think you get double the enjoyment - both in building the set and then playing with it too. We will definitely be buying more sets in the future and the kids already have their eyes on a few Minecraft sets which I've always been hesitant about ordering before but now I know how they work, I will definitely purchase without giving it a second thought in the future. 




Have you bought any LEGO sets recently? I'd love to know if you have any LEGO recommendations for us. 

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When are children ready for their first LEGO set? We review LEGO City Jungle Explorers Mobile Lab and LEGO Friends Heartlake Hospital for ages 7-12 years.

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3 comments

  1. There were definitely LEGO sets in the 80s - but like you we mostly just played with a big bucket full of random bricks. Toby is 4 and loves his DUPLO - we were wondering when it might be time to move onto proper LEGO but reading this I think we might wait a bit longer, and probably wait until Gabe is old enough to play too (he's not 2 yet). The sets you got look brilliant though :)

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  2. My daughter adores building lego! She saved up for the lego hotel, and then my husband accidentally dropped it when moving it- it's never made it back into that original perfect state!

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  3. I love lego. My mum recently bought one which was far too old for my 3 year old. I loved doing it at night when they were in bed and now they just play with the finished product. It'll be a good few years before they can take it apart and remake it.

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I always love reading your thoughts and comments - Sam x

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