Collaboration – Imaginative theme building

In this variation of 'Build under a theme', the children get the opportunity to build from a common theme and a self-chosen challenge.
The task

We build together under a theme, and we agree upon one specific challenge which guides our construction. The purpose of the activity is to stimulate the creation of our own universe and stories about the theme through the construction of our model.

Collaboration – Build under a Theme We create a motivating environment for the children. 



Suggestion for introduction

We create a motivating environment for the children. 

For example, we can say: “We practice building together. Maybe we’ll learn something new about each other today, like how to create something new and exciting together. Today, we are building under a common theme e.g. Hawaii, Minecraft, or princesses. There is only one rule and one challenge.

The rule is: everybody helps with building and we create something together.

The challenge is: There has to be something… (e.g. magical, green, or villainous) in the thing we are building.”


The activity can be adapted to the framework of one lesson and varied according to the time available and the children’s prerequisites.


We can use Lego, or wooden blocks, plus-plus, magnetic tiles, paper, or something else – as long as we feel like building with it. Lego is the obvious choice for this activity.

During the activity

During the play session, the children encounter challenges and successes, where we can stop and help spot what is difficult or what is going well. We can do this in several ways:

Reflection routines 

When we get the opportunity to reflect together with the children on what challenges or discoveries arise along the way, we can use one or more reflection routines. It could be, for example, a learning metaphor with a social strategy that we practice, an emoji that describes the feeling we have right now, or a rating of how well we think the building is going. In this way, a reflection routine can help to show and put into words the experiences that the children have during the play session.

Facilitating questions

We can ask facilitating questions to the children along the way, as they naturally arise in the building process. In this way, we facilitate the play session so that we continue the play and at the same time learn something from it. For example: 

  • I see that you have stopped building. I wonder how we can continue from here? 
  • I see that you have encountered a challenge. Should we try to solve it together? 
  • Try to notice what you are doing right now. Do you think this is a collaborative strategy? 
Show and Tell

Finally, in the play session, we give a Show and Tell of our construction, so that we have the opportunity to share our experiences, reflections, and feelings about the construction process.

First, we talk about our model and the process of building it. During the Show and Tell, we can use reflection routines and reflective questions to support the discoveries that have been made. For example:

  • What went well? 
  • What was difficult?
  • Is there anything that you want to do differently the next time we build a model?
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