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HAMMONTOIN - Lego madness swept through the Toy Market in downtown Hammonton on Sunday afternoon with kids, parents and grandparents working side by side to make original Lego creations.

“Legos are class generational,” said store owner Kelly Donio about the store’s annual “Lego March Madness” event. “It’s a classic toy that crosses generations. They can be played with by people of all ages.”

In keeping with the famous March collegiate basketball tournament theme, of which Donio is an ardent fan, pairs of one adult and one child were asked to compete in teams consisting of a coach and a player. The team’s objective was to work together to make an original Lego creation based on different landscape pictures provided as prompts.

Sounds easy, right? Wrong. Divided into sections, each period presented its own set of challenges, such as letting only one player on the team speak, forcing alternative methods of communication with one another while building their Lego art.

When referee Alexis Braun blew her whistle, it was either for a “no talking” foul or it was time for the next quarter and the roles would reverse, giving the other player a turn at being creative in their communication. “This group has been pretty good at following the rules,” said Braun, “No whistle blowing for fouls yet. The earlier session had a lot of players talking when it wasn’t their turn,” laughed Braun. “Lots of fouls.”

As is the case with many of the toys sold at The Toy Market, there are a number of positive developmental and educational aspects that can be attributed to Legos.

“The Lego’s educational and therapeutic value has been shown to improve fine motor skills, cognitive thinking, problem solving and inspiring creativity,” said Donio. “At Toy Market, we try to create events that promote interaction between parents and kids — or other family members like grandparents, caregivers or whoever brings them to the event, because we really understand how important it is to be creative and to build and use their imaginations.”

At the end of the session, the children were asked what they learned from their Lego building experience. A smiling Gavin Sheehan summed it up by saying, “I learned that working together is better than working alone.”

That’s a good lesson to learn at any age.

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