Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Danish life: child's play

If there is one word synonymous with Denmark, it has to be 'Lego'. And if there is one toy that most children play with at some point in their childhood, whatever the country, class or gender, it must also be the brightly coloured plastic bricks that inspire creative play like nothing else.

And here in Copenhagen, Lego is everywhere. Not only are the shops full of it, it is at the airports (for sale and for play whilst weary parents collect the baggage from the conveyor belts) and in the schools and public buildings, there is also a room of plastic building bricks at our local community run indoor play area. My children love the stuff; not just my 3½ year old son (who has amassed a considerable collection of rescue vehicles, police vehicles, aeroplanes, motorbikes and the like all put together by carefully following instructions and honing his fine motor skills) even my 10 month old daughter is happy to pull apart the Duplo bricks and to make 'music' banging them together.

My 'Xenophobe's guide to the Danes' says that the word 'lego' derives from the Danish words leg godt, which mean 'play well'. From what I witnessed this weekend, this is something of which the children (and adults) of this country should be proud.

The pictures I am posting here were taken at 'Lego world'. Not to be confused with 'Legoland', the former was a four day exhibition/festival that took place at the Copenhagen equivalent of London's Olympia. The festival was less about rides and thrill seeking and more about bringing together people who love to play and build using the simple medium of primary coloured plastic bricks.

There were endless displays of carefully constructed models, intricately and meticulously pieced together: animals, cities, dinosaurs, cars, fire engines. I didn't see the full extent of it (given that my kids were most impressed with the piles of Duplo provided for free play!!) but from what I heard the creativity of the lego enthusiasts knew no limits...

This exhibition wasn't just about lego builders showing off the fruits of their play, it was also about letting children (and bigger kids!) join in. There were numerous areas carpeted off and strewn (ankle deep it seemed) in building blocks; from the big chunky Duplo bricks for the youngest visitors to the more sophisticated motorised and computerised elements for the more discerning pros. But in each area inadvertently on display was the 'play well': children focusing, sharing and giving expression to their imagination.


  1. Look at that lego!! I had no idea you could build such incredible things with it. I might have to do some investigating...

  2. i've got some out in my classroom now too-everyone loves it!! :)