The Tinkerer

PlayWell Pediatric Blog

What Is It With Dr. Jadin and LEGO?

March 21, 2023

The 2 reactions I get most often when patient families first walk in are: “WOW, this is so much LEGO!” To which I say, "yes, more LEGO than a LEGO store!" The other reaction being "Did you build all of this??” The answer is an emphatic yes!

LEGO® is a really unique toy. It's the biggest toy company with just a SINGLE product: the LEGO brick. Many sets of different assortments of LEGO bricks, but really the one product, as compared to a company like Hasbro with Play-doh, Monopoly, Fisher-Price, and, of course, Stretch Armstrong. One reason LEGO is so great is that the more you have of it, the more creative opportunity you have. LEGO is not a 1-off toy. It's not a 1-piece die-cast object that can only be one thing, unintegrated with other toys in function or scale, which therefore gets binned when it’s old & tired like most children’s toys (most McDonald’s toys don’t even last 1 day in my house before being unattended). LEGO bricks made now will click into any LEGO bricks made since 1958, which is a powerful reason why people don't throw them out. You may sell them, but nobody trashes them; they're still so useful for making anything you want, and anything your children or grandchildren one day may want!

Another big reason, I think, that LEGO is so universally loved is that it can be played with in many ways. There’s construction play, which is huge for STEM, learning how things go together and come apart, and for training perceptual ability, which is literally a component of the dental school admissions test (DAT). LEGO also supplies imaginative play same as any doll or action figure where you can enact situations with pretend characters. LEGO is a unified system of play and everything clicks together from DUPLO to regular LEGO (called system) and even Technic. All LEGO minifigures are the same scale, so you can mix and match all your sets/characters and, if you want, play out what would happen if Elsa was riding a T-rex on a pirate ship when Harry Potter arrives to rescue them all from falling into a Sarlacc pit. It could happen - trust me. 

But the biggest reason for me is that you can engage in creative play. You can take apart LEGO sets and make something new. For kids, I like to recommend a website called, where you can type in the LEGO set you have and see what other people have made using the pieces from just that one set. This is great, too, if you want to stay organized and keep the parts from one set together so you can later re-build the original set if you want, instead of sets eventually becoming part of a massive unorganized LEGO bin (which is ABSOLUTELY how I grew up). You can scour the site for inspiration or you can buy someone else's instructions for how to make what they made. For adults, I build my own creations (MOCs) digitally on a platform called, which is basically 3D computer design software with access to unlimited LEGO bricks in all colors. I make what I want digitally, then drop my file into BrickLink is the eBay of LEGO bricks where the stores sell LEGO new or used. You drop your file in, it determines how many of which pieces you used and of what color, then determines how to get you ALL of those pieces from as few shops as possible while minimizing cost, and then they ship to you. Then you can physically make what you designed! You can use to make official instructions if you want others to be able to make your design.

I have a whole section of my LEGO display that is entirely comprised of things that are NOT LEGO sets, most of which were made by me, some of which were things I found on rebrickable that I LOVED and wanted to make. A few of my own creations are a LEGO panoramic dental x-ray, a dental chair, the Solea dental laser, and my wooden dentist minifigure (5X the size of a LEGO minifigure) for which I made from LEGO a dental handpiece and a dental mirror, and for which I also knitted booties, gloves, mask and crocheted a scrub cap. I also knitted a big Death Star from which I hung a bunch of micro-scale LEGO Star Wars spaceships as if they're flying around it.

I honestly think that LEGO and knitting/crocheting (another favorite activity of mine) share a great deal number of admirable traits. They both involve a system of available pieces/stitches, and you follow designs which are not your own as you learn how to use what exists to make the things you want. As you get comfortable, you then start to invent your own patterns, your own techniques, your own projects.

The potential is limitless; people have used LEGO to create anything from clocks to functional limb prosthetics. Once you start making things, not only is it creative, but it is extremely mathematical (another topic close to my heart!). Ask anyone who designs things out of LEGO or who makes up their own knitting/crochet patterns. It's a LOT of math. 

I like to encourage kids to eat well, brush well, sleep well, and of course, to play well (“play well” is the English translation of the Danish "leg godt," which was combined to make the name we all know: LEGO). I like to show and wow kids with all the things they, too, could build – LEGO sets and MOCs, alike – to try to inspire. Playing is learning, and is the work of a child. LEGO products offer so many ways to play and learn. Apart from stepping on a few bricks if your kids don't clean up, it's a great way for families to play together, whether you have a 1-year-old baby with DUPLO, a 5-year-old with system, or a 13-year-old with technic. So much magic is to be had when kids get the validation, encouragement, and aid from a parent helping with play, and the adult gets to play, allowing them to experience all of the unfiltered nature of their kids and how truly amazing they are. I encourage you to grab some bricks, new or old, and make a flower or a rocket or a dentist office (one of those sounds SUPER interesting to me), and have some fun!

LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this article.

A kid playing with his toys

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