Engaging kids one LEGO project at a time

Kalan Brodie, 5, at left, and Charlie Webb, 7, at a Bricks4Kidz camp where they learned how things float. Cathy Dobson.

Cathy Dobson

When Celyn Marsh was approached by her brother-in-law about the possibility of opening a new business together, she was apprehensive at first.

“I thought it was a big investment and I was a little scared,” admitted Marsh. “But over the next

Celyn Marsh

year, we did a lot of reading, a lot of research and I was sold.”

She was sold on a franchise that appealed to brother-in-law Steve Devlin because it was winning awards.

Bricks 4 Kidz has an offbeat name that mystifies a lot of people, but it was named the #1 Children’s Enrichment Franchise by Entrepreneur Magazine in 2014.

The concept for the franchise is simple. Franchisees like Marsh and Devlin use LEGO and other creative games to help kids explore the worlds of engineering, architecture, robotics and physics.

Classes and projects focus on S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and are meant to be hands-on, enriching, social and fun.

The franchise is relatively new and growing rapidly around the world.  In 10 years, 750 locations have opened worldwide in 46 countries.

In Sarnia, kids ages five to 12 can participate in camps and after-school programs.  Sarnia’s Bricks 4 Kidz is also in local schools conducting workshops that meet curriculum requirements. Bricks 4 Kidz birthday parties are one of the company’s most popular services.

The franchise was started by a Florida mom named Michelle Cote who was an out-of-work architectural draftswoman at the time. While volunteering at her kids’ elementary school, she offered to teach an after-school Spanish class and a creative science lab using LEGO.

Only three students signed up for Spanish classes but 35 attended the LEGO lab.

“She was blown away by the response,” said Marsh who draws on her own teaching background to lead Bricks 4 Kidz classes and camps.

That first year, Cote expanded into 12 schools and realized the business potential of franchising learning centres that specialize in high quality, educational play.

In 2016, Marsh and Devlin bought exclusive franchise rights for Bricks 4 Kidz in Sarnia-Lambton and began mobile programs in a local church and community centre.

Demand grew for their special approach to educating and engaging kids. Soon the company needed to find a permanent location.

Several months ago, Bricks 4 Kidz moved into 1030 Confederation St. where the classroom is filled with LEGO pieces of every description, gears, wheels, pulleys and kid-sized workstations. Some programs are also offered at Mooretown Sports Complex and Petrolia’s community centre.

Several part-time employees work for Bricks 4 Kidz and one more was recently hired to co-ordinate corporate team building events.

“We thought offering team building in the workplace would work well in our city, so we’re starting a different division for adults,” Marsh explained.

A couple of new programs for kids start this week including Young Engineers for ages 5-12 on Mondays from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.; and Bricks 4 Girlz with Devon James and Celyn Marsh Thursdays from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

In-school programs cost approximately $6 per child for a 90 minute workshop.

Two-hour birthday parties are priced at $300 and include invitations, cake, pizza, goodie bags and building projects.

For more information, visit https://www.bricks4kidz.com/canada-ontario-sarnia/ or call 519-381-5856.

 

Got an interesting idea for a business story? Contact Cathy Dobson at cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca or call 226-932-0985.