Lego creations come to life at the Atlas Park shopping center. Photo by Cesar Bustamante

Lego creations come to life at the Atlas Park shopping center. Photo by Cesar Bustamante

Originally published in Forum.

A boy shouted out, “Holy Cow,” as the motor-powered Lego model he just helped build started to come alive with its gears moving suddenly.

Bricks 4 Kidz group launched a free summer program inside the Shops at Atlas Park to build up children’s mechanical skills while they build moving Lego models.

“As they have fun, every child walks away knowing they’ve accomplished something,” said Lamacca Holmes, a teacher at the summer program. “And then they can say, ‘Hey mom look what I made.’ Parents love that as well.”

Bricks 4 Kidz instructors walked children ages six through 12 through the process of building Lego models, like a carousel swing, by using motors, Legos and other tools.

Holmes said the children not only get to play with Legos, but also develop fine motor skills, learn to follow instructions better and work in groups.

While she said a lot of boys enjoyed the building aspects of these programs, Holmes also emphasized that girls could also have fun playing with Legos and encouraged more parents to consider enrolling their daughters.

“[Girls] love learning and they love engineering as well so I like the fact that when we see girls in our program they get excited,” she said.

This was the first time Bricks 4 Kidz brought its program to Atlas Park. It was an idea that came from Peter DeLucia Jr., the mall’s marketing manager, who suggested that Johnny Rocket’s restaurant sponsor the event as a good family activity for the community.

“Every year we try to do events that engage the community, and we try to keep it fresh every year,” he said. “I know Legos are popular. Some of my nieces and nephews love Legos. I thought it would be a good fit.”

Jeanine Breen from Middle Village said she was originally going to enroll her young son in a similar program in Long Island until she found out about the Atlas Park program from a brochure inside the mall.

“He learned, he had fun, and he’s very happy. So I’m happy,” she said, after her son called her over to look at the Lego creation he helped build. “I would come back.”

The classes were scheduled for every Thursday through Aug. 28, which includes four sessions starting at 10 a.m. and the final one at 1:45 p.m. Space has been limited and instructors urged anyone interested to register by calling (718) 326-3300.

For more information about activities in Atlas Park, go to ShopAtlasPark.com.