What is LEGO Travel Buddy and how did it get started? LEGO Travel Buddy is a global collaboration project that started in 2017. I am always searching for connections with librarians abroad and know that it was important to learn from other educators to grow my PLN. Working in a small rural district, it is crucial to connect, seek funding and resources to enhance student access. I love to see how digital access can provide my students with exposure to new cultures, people and places. I felt that we needed authentic connections with peers and educators abroad and that is what gave me the incentive to seek out collaborations. Global collaborations provide windows (opportunities to observe diverse people and their cultures and develop empathy) and doors (incentive to move beyond one location and seek opportunities, connections and adventures abroad). LTB is our take on "Flat Stanley". It's the same concept of sharing an object and visually seeing it in another location.
We really wanted to have pen pals and get book recommendations and information about various states and countries from people who actually lived there! The key is to find someone willing to connect and we have been so amazed by the dedicated school librarians and educators who go the extra mile to celebrate and share their schools, favorite books, hometowns and journeys. Every person is different and decides how they are going to incorporate the 1 inch plastic mini-figure into their library life. It seems to be a wonderful ice-breaker and has been put into the hands of pre-school children in Hawaii to, recently, Dubai’s Librarians of the Year!
Need inspiration or just want to follow LEGO Travel Buddy? Please view the links for sample projects, visit our Going Global MAP and share with your students. Connecting with LEGO Travel Buddy has been a life-changing experience. I highly recommend adding it to your librarian bucket list! Last year, we sent a LEGO Travel Buddy to several different places and thanks to the librarians and teachers in Hawaii, London, Australia, China, California, New Hampshire and Pocomoke Middle on the eastern shore of Maryland, we made our first connections! We also sent and received postcards from both Sarah Betteridge (Perth, Australia) and Lucas Maxwell (London, England) via AIR MAIL. The postcards are so personal and are displayed proudly in our school library.
In an effort to save time and money, we found using digital tools has allowed us to increase our connections instantly and for free! We received beautiful digital postcards from Sarah Betteridge and her students in Australia on a Padlet called Where in the WORLD do we live? NMS students created and shared their own about Garrett County, MD using Google Slides! In order to book talk or share information about our locations, our students collaborate on Flipgrid and their librarian posts pictures on Twitter.
I received my first official LEGO Travel Buddy kit free with a purchase from LEGO.COM shop. The minifigure has a very distinct space shirt and has numerous travel accessories. Some of the first LEGO mini-figures that we have shared were custom made to look like the participant and others are from the special edition set! They are all collector items! The mini-figures are inexpensive to mail and everyone loves LEGO! Also, LEGO is a great representation of our school library where we host FIRST LEGO League projects and teams! Every LTB is unique, just like the librarians that accept the challenge to receive one because they all showcase their adventures in different ways!
Adventures range from riding an ATV through the Atlas Mountains of Marrakesh to visiting the ALA International Conference in Dubai to touring the Harry Potter studios in London! Students from abroad who have received a LEGO Travel Buddy have shared information for What in the WORLD are you Reading about their favorite books and where they live!
This is how we become better Global and Digital Citizens, with authentic connections. It introduces my students to new faces and places! We are often surprised that even when our global friends are 4,000 miles away, we are reading the same books! It also inspires us to learn more about our world that we will hopefully have the opportunity to travel. Connecting on Flipgrid and Twitter gives my students exposure to the world beyond the Appalachian Mountains!
Current global connections include:
Students have even shared clues using the 5 themes of Geography on a mystery Flipgrid with students in South Carolina! This week, another Mystery Flipgrid location is in the works! I am not allowed to reveal the location but it is a very special librarian that everyone loves to connect with!
We are also excited to see what adventures the following librarians will share with us who have recently received an LTB:
After receiving and connecting with our school library, we make it up to you about what you would like to do next. Many of the LEGO Travel Buddies continue to explore. For example, our Hawaiian LTB "Hoa Hele", has traveled over 40,000 miles and is planning an African Safari next! You may choose to pass it on to another librarian, also a wonderful option. We just ask that they stay in touch and share their adventures. Please use the #LEGOTravelBuddy hashtag and @AliSchilpp so we can follow you! Our school system only allows access to Twitter, so this is a way for us to connect in school where we all have internet access!
There are so many more librarians that I would love to connect with. Is there a LEGO Buddy in your future? Here at NMS, we are always seeking out new friends and adventures! Let us know if you would like to collaborate/connect with us!