Parallel – Build under a theme with different materials

In this variation of 'Build under a theme', the children get the opportunity to explore how to build their own ideas and learn to build together under a shared theme together with others.
The task

We each build something that falls under a common theme with our own piles of materials. The purpose of the activity is to share and exchange materials with each other and agree upon how to do it. We create a fun imaginary universe to play within.

Parallel – Build under a Theme We create a motivating framework for the children.



Suggestion for introduction

We create a motivating framework for the children.

For example, we can say: “Today, we each build something that falls under a common theme e.g. a tiny town or a zombie invasion. There are three rules to follow when we are building. The activity is about building models next to each other, so we have something to play with. There is only one rule: We build our models as they appear in the building instructions. You can’t win, because it’s not a competition. In fact, we want to help each other. If something is difficult, we just ask for help. If one of us finishes before the other, there are some small extra sets to build. We practice building together, and we try to use what we have already learned to reflect on the activity together. Maybe we will learn something new about each other today by playing next to each other.”

  1. We each build something that fits within our theme.
  2. We each have a pile of bricks and we only build with bricks from our own pile.
  3. We can share or exchange bricks while we build, but we have to both agree upon it.

We practice building together, and try to use our experiences in the play to reflect upon what we learn together. Maybe we learn something new today, like how to come up with a good story.


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 small Lego sets that we are familiar with, or wooden blocks, plus-plus, magnetic tiles, paper, or something else that we like to build with. We each get a pile of building materials and the piles should be different from each other.

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 are building together?
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