History learned through LEGO® you say? YES! LEGO is a great way to explore history. From archaeology and cultures to geography and map skills,  you can incorporate LEGO to grab your child’s attention and help them learn about the past. (If you’re also interested in using LEGO to learn scientific concepts, click here.)

How to use LEGO in your history study

There are many ways to use LEGO in your homeschool. This post is going to focus on incorporating LEGO into history by:

  • Geography & Map Skills
  • Re-enacting Historical Events
  • Studying Ways of Life and Cultures
  • Archaeological Dig Simulations
  • Meet Historians and Classicists through Lego Classicist

Any of these ideas can be accomplished with LEGO you already have around your home. If your kids are sticklers for historical accuracy, you can challenge them to get creative in figuring out ways to make mini-figure costumes and accurate brick colors. But the goal is to use what you already have, not to spend a fortune on new LEGOs. 

Why LEGO is great for studying history

Unlike math or science, history doesn’t lend itself to having “manipulatives”. We can look at visual maps and photos, and recreate artifacts and period clothing with craft materials. But for kids who aren’t drawn to art materials (like my son), having to do messy craft projects can feel tedious rather than exciting.

LEGO is a great alternative! You can still get hands on, but without the mess (other than scattered pieces on the floor) and with a durable, reusable material that your kids already enjoy playing with!

If you have younger children who are hanging around while older children are “doing school”, LEGO could also be a great way for them to get involved. Even if they’re in the Duplo stage, they can still contribute buildings and act out stories with their larger mini-figures!

Here are just some of the MANY ways that you can incorporate LEGO into your history study!

Using LEGO to study geography & map skills

Whatever time period or area of the world your kids are studying, it’s important to develop a sense of geography, as well as map skills. Your kids can take a baseplate and build the outlines and features of the map, such as these two examples of the political maps of the USA and Australia.

Rather than building the political boundaries, you can have your kids build the environment, like a physical map. Or, take the project off the map and simply build an environment that reflects the place and time period that you’re studying.

If your kids don’t have enough LEGO, time, or patience to build a full map, they can spread out a map on the floor or table and build on top of it! Whether it’s adding in buildings and ships, or having mini-figures “walk” from one location to another, there are many ways that they can examine maps creatively using LEGO!

Map of Australia by Our Worldwide Classroom

Re-enacting historical events

If you’re studying a particular moment in history, one way to delve deeper is to represent it with LEGO! Your child will need to think deeply about how to represent the setting of the event, and how and where to put the people involved.

This idea may be more challenging if you don’t have an extensive LEGO collection, particularly when it comes to outfitting mini-figures and equipping them with period-accurate implements like weapons and tools. It’s OK if your child’s rendition isn’t museum-accurate, as the thought process of representing these things is what’s most important. That being said, there are beautifully rendered LEGO projects all over the Internet that use specialized pieces, which are great for inspirational purposes.

Here are a few examples of LEGO historical re-enactments in action:

Battle of Thermopylae, 480 BCE
Berlin Wall, 1989
The original Guy Fawkes Day, part of an epic history of Britain by James Pegrum
If your child is older (or just more ambitious), you could even animate the event through the use of stop motion animation. This involves setting up a camera or tablet and taking individual photos, moving the pieces slightly each time.

Or, enjoy the MANY short clips and films that people have created already, like this one from the Revolutionary War:

Studying ways of life & landmarks

Your kids may enjoy building the dwellings, marketplaces, factories, and farms of everyday people during each historical time period that you study. You can use LEGO in place of craft materials, or integrated with them. LEGO would be particularly useful in building structures containing hard ingredients like marble, stone, and brick.

Anglo Saxon Homestead, from “How to Impress an Archaeologist With LEGO” – the other examples from this article are great as well!
Of course, you can also include famous buildings! Examples abound online of extremely detailed, skilled renditions of landmarks, present day and ancient. Depending on personality, your kids may find them inspiring, or intimidating! If you choose to show them, you could discuss with your kids what is historically accurate and inaccurate about these models, and how they’d change the build to make it more reflective of the times.
Mayan Temple and Ziggurat by Cortney and Jon Ophoff
Leaning Tower of Pisa from Making LEGO Landmarks – Homegrown Learners
Fort Ticonderoga from MOCPages
Hadrian’s Wall from Kokatu
At the other end of the spectrum, it’s possible to produce great results with simple Duplos!
After your kids have built ancient cities or structures, you can take it one step further and bury them as part of an archaeology simulation!

If desired, you can even have several different time periods in different layers for your kids to excavate!

Meet experts in the field through LEGO Classicists!

The LEGO Classicists group on Facebook features professors and researchers in the classics who are represented as mini-figures. According to the information provided, “LEGO Classicists is the work of historical archivist Liam D. Jensen, whose LEGO figure portraits honor scholars & others in the area of ancient art & culture.” You can also find this project on Instagram. This is a fun way to learn about the real people who have made the discoveries and done the research that we all benefit from!

Pompeii LEGO Dig Site by Adventures in Mommydom
Lisa is a homeschooling mom, science educator and curriculum developer with classroom experience ranging from pre-K students to 7th grade. After almost 20 years in traditional school settings, Lisa currently works as a curriculum consultant to schools and families. She also teaches weekend, after-school, camp programs, and graduate courses for science teachers at the American Museum of Natural History. Lisa blogs at  Inquiring Minds Homeschool.