Kidizens: How it Works
With over 1,000 square feet of green space and a million LEGO bricks, kidizens build their own small-scale city where their decisions have real impact on others.
An experienced teacher guides city inhabitants, enriching them with critical thinking concepts. The teacher helps our young city planners as they learn, hands-on, about civic concepts, money management, economics, architecture, geometry, environmental issues, and more.
The kidizens experience a fun, interactive, and experiential role as a member of an imagined community they engineer and run.
Interactive LEGO Experiences to Inspire Learning and Leadership
Every day in the life of a kidizen is different. Some days they may be focusing on building a new highway, electing a new official, making tough budget decisions, or reacting to a city emergency.
Here are just a few of the experiences your kidizen will encounter as they manage their LEGO city:
- Planning and Designing a City
When they do so, they become part of a class that consists of 12 students. Because each of the classes will attend on a different day of the week, each will govern its own city within a larger Kidizens state.
On that first day, however, the kidizens will find only LEGO grass, water and mountains — but it is a new land that will soon become their home.
The Kidizens economy is based on the LEGO dot. Each child begins with 1,200 Dots. Right away, the new kidizens will have to make some hard choices. With a limited bank account they will design and construct their new home. But for every LEGO Dot bigger or higher the house is, the more Dots it will cost in currency. This first decision will be typical of the type of real-life decisions that the kidizens will confront.
The city treasury will also consist of Dots. The more buildings the city constructs, the more taxes they will need raise from each kidizens’ personal bank account.
- Learning Money Management
While all the kidizens have the 1,200 Dots that they brought with them to begin their city, they will soon find their money dwindling. And like any early settlers, they will have to find a way to sustain their livelihood in their new home. One such way is to open a business…
It is for this purpose that we will first be talking about economic concepts like budgets, loans, profits and overhead, as our new entrepreneurs use their ingenuity to draw up business plans. They will develop a budget which will have to account for all the items they will need to open their business — as well as such costs as land, workers and electricity.
Of course, these new kidizens don’t have the money for all of that, so like real-life business people, the kidizens will need to take out a loan from the city bank. They will fill out business applications, purchase insurance and try to convince the bank why their business is going to make money. The kidizens will be called upon to use their powers of persuasion.
- Running the Government
Business owners and citizens find that the decisions of their government can have an effect on their lives. Such will be the case for the kidizens. Business owners soon will have demands for the city. A car dealer would certainly want the city to build decent roads while a restaurant owner might need it to do something about water and electricity. Everyone will need the garbage collected.
All of the kidizens in the city serve on a city council which meets during each class. They learn how to propose laws, offer amendments and debate from the floor of our city council chamber.
As the council makes decisions on what is most important to build first, it will also have to tackle some tough political questions. For instance, should the city collect taxes? This will be a difficult decision for council members, especially when the money is coming out their own personal bank accounts.
The council will also have to weigh the importance of competing interests. For instance, is the convenience and safety of new roads more critical than the construction of a hospital?
- Electing Officials
As differing point of views are shared on the council, mayoral elections will be a natural next step. We will be learning about democracy through our own city elections, as each of the mayoral candidates will have 5 important issues for the candidates to consider. These issues will naturally flow from the questions that the council is considering at the time. While tax and future construction questions will be natural to consider, there will be other questions as well. How much should the city be allowed to develop? Does the council wish to permit cars, trucks and other potential pollutants? What laws should be enacted to keep the public safe? Should businesses be allowed to open in any part of the city?
All of the candidates will be considering the campaign issues, stating their opinions and creating platforms to appeal to voters. Meanwhile, we will discuss what makes for a good voter. Voting based on the issues will be stressed. While your buddy may be your best friend, it’s possible you won’t agree with him or her in their mayoral priorities.
All the candidates are then elected to important city jobs. While the mayor will have veto power over future council decisions, other jobs such as Sheriff, Roads Commissioner, Judge and Safety Inspector will have other key responsibilities and powers in the city government.
- The Teachers Role
Teachers have a number of roles in Kidizens, but they are never decision-makers in the council meetings. Rather, teachers act as neutral and non-voting members of each city. The teacher will guide discussions, provide perspective and background and teach mini-lessons on the subjects at hand…but it is never their job to interfere. This is a city run by and for the kidizens.
In overseeing Kidizens, the site director will often make “things happen.” In the city, there may be natural disasters that will test the council. Other times, fictitious LEGO characters may give the council something to think and talk about. Beside the twelve class member citizens, other LEGO people will be moving into the city. They may have their own opinions, needs and beliefs that the council must consider.
Each week, the teachers write news posts that describe the events in the city. You can get a sense of the type of issues the councils have to deal with by looking at past Kidizens’ News.