After finding the pieces of Daddy’s old lego pirate ship, Ioan was keen to build his own.


  • LEGO®
  • Circus scarves


Building with instructions

Ioan’s always loved building with lego. When he was three, he would spend his Sunday afternoons building, and playing, Star Wars lego with Daddy.

Ioan likes things to be ordered, so the lego sets that come with instructions were perfect for him. Every piece had a place, that was shown, so all he had to do was work step by step through the booklet.

There are lots of benefits to following instruction manuals, besides the ability to assemble your Ikea furniture in the future! We’ve always given them written instructions to follow, whether it was assembling a teepee in Early Years or planting seeds in Key Stage 1.

Not only does following instruction manuals improve their reading, it develops skills in:

  • teamwork
  • communication
  • resilience
  • perseverance
  • patience
  • frustration management
  • focus

Building without instructions

It took a few years of lego play, to convince Ioan that he could build without instructions. Now he’s converted and has discovered that with free building, your creativity is only limited by your own imagination!

Lego gives children the opportunity to let their imagination run wild and explore their creativity without fear of failure. Children will also discover what they are able to create when they can play without restraint.

Playing with lego is also known to have amazing benefits for the development of fine motor skills, developing dexterity and strength in the fingers. The different amounts of pressure used to assemble the lego pieces, is a great exercise for small fingers, supporting children in being able to hold a pencil and control the pressure applied when writing.

Pirate Ship

Ioan had been working on this pirate ship for about a week. He started off by drawing what he hoped his finished model would look like. He had seen a picture of what the Black Seas Barracuda set looked like when Daddy played with it in the 90’s, but wanted his pirate ship to look completely different.

One difference was that Ioan wanted his masts to be elevated above the rigging, rather than having the rigging up the sides of the masts. This was very tricky to achieve and the whole thing would come tumbling down because of one small move. Ioan can naturally be quite hot headed, but playing with lego has helped him develop perseverance and learn to overcome frustration, knowing that his masterpieces can be re-built.

Ioan gave me a tour of the pirate world. He wanted to make it clear which bits he didn’t make, so he didn’t take credit for something that was ready assembled.

Please excuse our grumpy one year old in the background, this is real life and it was nearly bedtime.

Once he’d got a few moment of relative peace, he carried on the tour, but it was short lived.

While I got Cian dressed in his pyjamas and ready for bed, Ioan added some scarves to extend his sea. Then, he finally got to finish off showing me his pirate ship.

Ioan was excited by the shadows of the masts on the wall, he thought it made it very atmospheric and reminded him of a pirate ship emerging from the sea mist.

KS1 National Curriculum Objectives for Design Technology


  • generate, develop, model and communicate their ideas through talking, drawing, templates and mock-ups


  • select from and use a wide range of materials and components, including construction materials, textiles and ingredients, according to their characteristics


  • explore and evaluate a range of existing products
  • evaluate their ideas and products against design criteria

Technical knowledge

  • build structures, exploring how they can be made stronger, stiffer and more stable
  • explore and use mechanisms [for example, levers, sliders, wheels and axles], in their products.